“The name escapes me at the moment,” said Father Benedict Groeschel on his Sunday evening program. “Don’t get old.”

Having the name of a person or place escape you is not peculiar to old folks, but it does seem to happen more often the older we get.  Now, Father Groeschel is ten years younger than I am and his memory is astonishingly good, one might even say miraculously good, considering his terrible accident and lengthy coma just a few years ago.  But, as with Father Groeschel, more and more often in my peer group I notice that we grope for a word that just doesn’t appear at the tip of the tongue when we want it.   With myself, it most often seems to be a person’s name.  I can remember the person’s occupation, where s/he lives, the nationality of the name, how many syllables it has, sometimes the letter it begins with – if you say it, I’ll recognize it right off.  Like Father Groeschel, I just murmur, “It will come to me later.”  We oldsters are patient with each other and hope that while this incapacity is annoying it is par for the course.  We add, half-joking, that we’re “Up to Z in Alzheimer’s!”

Now, Alzheimer’s disease is a scary thing that none of us wants to think about.   It is reported to run in families and I take comfort in the thought that neither of my parents had it when they died at 87 and 95.  Unfortunately, I have a dear friend whose mother has early Alzheimer’s and she has been sharing with me the books she reads in order to become informed.   I must have read three or four of them by now, including one called Iris, which was written by her husband.  Here’s where I ran into trouble.  I remembered the book was about the famous Irish novelist Iris Murdoch and tried looking it up on Amazon, thinking her husband’s name was also Murdoch.  Eventually it turned out it was titled Elegy for Iris,  written by her husband John Bayley.  And I learned for the first time that her last book showed subtle signs of Alzheimer’s, according to neuroscientists.  It makes one wonder what incipient maladies may be evidenced in my blogposts for those who have eyes to see.

John Bayley goes into the problems of caring for Iris in agonizing detail.  I did not find the excellent movie, Iris, (2001) played by Judi Dench, and, in her early years, Kate Winslet, as devastating as the book, but still a powerful depiction of role changes as the brilliant, free-spirited Iris becomes totally dependent upon her husband.

The latest book, currently in hand, is Preventing Alzheimer’s written by neurologist William Rodman Shankle, M.S., M.D., and clinical neuroscientist/psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, M.D.  It tells me on the first page that Alzheimer’s begins about 30 years before the first symptoms, which means that if not preventable it is at least delayable.  It also informs me that at age 85 I have a 50/50 chance of developing Alzheimer’s, not exactly a happy thought!  The book aims to provide “early-detection screening tools and early-intervention strategies.”   It is a treasure trove of possible causes of Alzheimer’s and similar diseases, including helpful treatments such as exercise, diet, supplements, and drugs.  It would be quite impossible to condense it into a few well chosen sentences, so I won’t try.  I recommend it as a marvelous overview of current thinking on ADRD (Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders) as well as helpful dietary suggestions for those of us with MCI (minimal cognitive impairment).

Now, as a final thought, let me add  that I seem to have been over-using Father Groeschel’s favorite bridge word in this post for transitioning between thoughts.   Now, what do you think that might be?


Now there abide these three, faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13