Forget me not

Early in my childhood, I can still remember a tiny, beautiful little flower that would bloom in the early spring, showing itself off with light green leaves and a cluster of small, blue, pink or white flowers. This plant is affectionately named forget-me-not and was often used to brighten up the life of someone who had experienced ill health. Often, when visiting a sick friend, a pot of forget-me-nots was offered as a symbol of friendship. I am so grateful that I still can remember the beauty of that plant. I can also recall Nat King Cole singing the love song, “Unforgettable,” which was produced a second time with his daughter Natalie joining in. I also recall the beautiful ballad, “Memories,” which has been recorded by many artists.

Unfortunately, however, everyone’s memory is not the same as we wander down life’s path. Forgetfulness may be minor in some cases and major in others. To illustrate this problem, I use a joke that goes as follows. An elderly couple was sitting in their living room watching television. The husband rose up from his seat and told his wife that he was going into the kitchen to get some ice cream, asking her if she would like some. She replied, “That would be nice.” As he got to the door of the kitchen he asked his wife if she would like some chocolate syrup added. Again, she gave a positive reply. She told him that he should write her request because of his forgetfulness. He replied that wasn’t a problem. After several minutes, he returned with a plate of scrambled eggs. She looked at him and said, “I told you, you should have written it down. You forgot the bacon!”

A wonderful patient named Oliver Manning wrote a poem concerning forgetfulness entitled “All Mixed Up.”

Just a line to say I’m living…

That I’m not among the dead

Tho, I’m getting more forgetful

All mixed up in my head

For, sometimes I can’t remember

When I stand at the foot of the stairs

If I must go up for something

Or, I’ve just come down from there

And before the fridge so often

My mind is filled with doubt

Have I just put food away or,

Have I come to take some out

And there are time when it is dark out

With a nightcap on my head

I don’t know if I’m retiring

Or just getting out of bed

So, if it’s my turn to write you

There’s no need for getting sore

I may think that I have written

And I don’t want to be a bore

So, remember I do love you

And I wish that you were here

But now, it’s nearly mail time, so

I must say goodbye my dear

There I stood beside the mailbox

With a face so red

Instead of mailing you my letter

I opened it up instead

The great scientist, Dr. Alois Alzheimer (1864-1915), recognized and described a form of severe forgetfulness known as dementia in 1906. He described this pathology in a brain of a very young woman. Under the microscope the nerves demonstrated clumping of the neuro-fibrils and appeared disorganized. This patient had experienced during her lifetime, forgetfulness, depression and hallucinations. Alzheimer named this condition after himself.

The cause of this disease is uncertain at the present time. However, research has produced drugs that have been shown to decrease the progression of this disease, but not cure it. The disease must be recognized early to prevent progressive deterioration. Often, patients are malnourished. Attention should be paid to good nutrition, which will supply many of the vitamins and minerals that the body needs. Food that the patients really like should be prepared. If the patients are homebound, vitamin D (500 IU) will serve the patient well. Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine should be avoided. Good conversation and visual stimulation should be used to maintain mental balance. Walks in the park, hiking and anything that exposes the patients to nature should be a part of their treatment. A visit to a botanical garden or museum can be stimulating. If attending religious services have been a part of the patients’ lives that attendance should be continued.

After reading the above article, please, forget-me-not.