Sunday, October 29, 2006


These two acronyms can be very handy for an oldie like me, especially if you have embarrassed yourself as I did today. I met in my village an old acquaintance whom I had not seen for many years except, as I thought, on the previous day in the local town. "Hullo!" I cried jovially, "twice in two days - would you believe it, after all this time?" She gazed at me in astonishment and asked me what I meant. It turned out it had been someone quite different I had seen the day before, but on that occasion I had got away with it, and not revealed that I had thought she was someone else. What I should have done this time was explain that I was suffering from BSF and on that account should be forgiven - and then make a quick exit before she could ask what I was talking about.

If you have not come across the acronym, it stands for Benign Senescent Forgetfulness, and is something that many of you will recognise, I am sure, even if you have not yet done your three score years and ten. MMI stands for Multiple Minor Impairments, another common experience among older people, even if they are generally in good health. I rather fancy popping into my doctor's surgery and saying that I think I have 'an attack' of MMI, and trying to keep a straight face while he tries to decide how to respond. Seriously though, I do like to use correct medical terms if I can, because I love words of all sorts, and I like to learn and retain them if I can, just for the sheer pleasure of knowing.

But about this tiresome BSF: memory loss is an impairment due to age, like failing eyesight and hearing, creaky joints and hair loss, but those who do not suffer from it tend to be impatient with those who do, and what is worse, in some cases to attribute stupidity to them as well. This is painful and humiliating and does nothing to improve our self-confidence. I have examined my own experience carefully over the last year or two, and I am prepared to state that BSI has caused me no accompanying loss of intelligence.

The losses I am aware of are in my short-term memory; my ability to make quick mental connections between related information (such as writing a comprehensive shopping list), and to absorb a lot of information at once (such as scanning the supermarket shelves); my vocabulary and spelling also seem to have suffered, and perhaps to some extent my judgement. And my attention span is getting noriceably shorter.

But I believe that, albeit more slowly than in the past, I am still capable of imaginative and creative thinking; of planning and organising; of determining a critical path of action to be taken, and so on. And I hope that my blog, amongst other things, stands witness to my claim, of an enduring intelligence level at least no worse than I was born with.

[I have borrowed the two cartoons from The Oldie magazine, which I hope they will not object to, as they are just what I needed to illustrate my title for this blog. ]


Pauline said...

Judith, my Memere used to jokingly refer to friends' complaints about liver, heart, bladder, or whatever ailments as "organ recitals." Here in the states we have CRS syndrome...(can't remember s*&%)

Judith said...

That's a lot more fun. BSF is used by the medical profession, I think - I wonder if CRS is too. Probably - they don't mince words, at least not between themselves.

Knowleypowley said...


I have found of late that hy memory is getting worse. It's usually little things, someone will tell me something and by the following day, I cannot remember it. I think I'll adopt Paulines ancronym - If I can remember it that is!!

Lillie said...

Judith, your blog is testimony to your ability to learn new things and make connections in ways that many of the much younger people I work with have not managed.
I've always hoped that a passionate interest in the world around us, and an insistence on using what brains we have as much and as often as possible, will strengthen that organ--a sort of "use it or lose it" idea.
After the onset of MMI, my mother used to joke that her social life took place in the doctor's office.

DellaB said...

Hi Judith, I was reading an article just today about how we keep our minds and memories from failing - apparently what we need to do is to keep them active, and you are certainly doing that. I haven't done 'reading' for a few days, what a joy it is to come here and see what you've been up to!

Love the emoticons, I haven't seen them done like this before .. thankyou

Gattina said...

I agree with Lillie ! My whole life I were looking for two things : my glaces and my keys and this hasn't changed !

If you are interested in reading about Turkey where I did a round trip it's in

Mehreen said...

Oh my God... with those symptoms you're describing, I think I suffer from BSF at my 23.. hehehe ;)

Don't worry about those little mistakes!.. just reeding your blog it's enough for seeing you're a clear-headed person.

Thanks for your visits Judith :-) I wrote my last post in bold text, I hope it's easier for you to read it in that way.

A big hug

herhimnbryn said...

Having spent the day gardening and hauling hay I can understand the aches and pains thing!
You know J. YOur blog is definately proof of your continuing insight and intelligence.
Blog on!

Ps. Do I come here often?;}

Sheila Joynes' Musical Diary said...

Judith, there is very little wrong with your brain, your memory or anything else. I, at 50, frequently have CRAFT moments - can't remember a F***ing thing!

Angela said...

Dear Judith,
I happened upon your blog as you, too, share a love of Fred Astaire & Ginger Roger movies. As a matter of fact, I stayed up until 1:30 am this morning, to catch their movie, Carefree. I can't believe I'd never seen it before!
Regardless, the main point in posting my comment is to offer you my sincere condolences in the loss of your husband. May the love and support of your family and friends be a source of comfort to you during this difficult and sad time.
Best regards & deepest sympathy...

Angela said...

No worries! Since you are from the UK, I am not sure if my posts would even be applicable to your country. Kudos to you for owning your home free & clear. That should be the goal of more people here in the US. Take good care and keep up the good work!