On Memory Lapses and Coping Mechanisms

Left: I am a prisoner of reminder notes

Over the past few years I have noticed a gradual decline in my ability to store information in my head. In particular my short-term memory faculty is susceptible to annoying lapses, and I have also noticed a decline in my episodic memory. I am running with the theory that my brain has maxed out its storage capacities and that bits of data are getting randomly discarded inside my head.

I have some health issues that may be contributing to my less-than-ideal memory, but let's face facts: at age 45 I am past my peak years of instantaneous information retrieval, though I am not quite ready to start funeral planning. I have been experimenting with methods by which I might work around momentary memory glitches and function at the level to which I am accustomed.

I have lately been in the habit of carrying around a small notebook to jot down ideas, anecdotes, and appointments that I used to file away in my head. This system works well on the days I remember to bring the notebook, but of course there is irony in the fact that I often forget to use this tool.

Today I scratched my head trying to remember for the umpteenth time the telephone numbers and procedure for my university voicemail. My brain simply refuses to recall the Audix number and my 5-digit extension (though I am fine with the password I chose). I came upon what I thought was a foolproof solution: type this information into a Word document, print the page, and the cut-and-tape the reminder to my work desk.

So I reached for my cell phone a few minutes ago and started dialing. The funny-pathetic part of this story is that at some point in the recent past I programmed all of this Audix information into my phone, and I today I completely forgot about the new voicemail memorization mechanism I just designed.

Good news: I guess this would be an example of memory compensation redundancy, though my forgetting of the recent cell phone programming is still irksome.