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Director's Message

April 2014 - Memory and Forgetting

Some of you know that I am a fan of TED talks. The success of our TED discussion group indicates that I am not alone. We have also brought TED to the Let’s Talk conversation groups and several of us enjoy them as a break in the evening. If you are not familiar with them, visit TED.com and search for a speaker or topic of interest. Each segment is 12-20 minutes long.

This week Susan Friedman forwarded a lecture by Daniel Kahneman on the riddle of experience vs memory. Dr. Kahneman is a psychologist who was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics. In this lecture he differentiates between the Experiencing Self which lives in the present moment, every moment, as we go through life. If asked by a doctor “how much does it hurt now?” the experiencing self can respond. But it is the Remembering Self that stops occasionally to evaluate the self or an episode. The remembering self may answer the question “did it hurt” in the same way whether the event was 10 minutes or 30 minutes long. The remembering self creates a story that is attached to that event.

Experiencing is continuous, but not retained. In fact, the remembering self doesn’t always know what the experiencing self went through. For example, if listening to a great piece of music that ends with an screech, the memory is often not of the great 20 minutes but of the last unpleasant moment. He also says that the future is anticipated memories.

It is memories (our stories) that shape our sense of self. Dr Kahneman concludes that there is a significant difference in describing happiness depending on whether you are measuring happiness in life (experience) or happiness with life (memory, satisfaction when you think about life).

Our culture places great importance on memories and the stories we tell. But was that what we truly experienced? It made me think about how often we are perplexed when we share our memory of an event, but others who were present say it didn’t happen that way at all. Each of us is shaping the event with our own story.

The lecture made me wonder how much influence we have over the story we create, whether it is simply associated with the last moments or whether we can purposefully make it a positively or negatively associated memory. Is this how optimists and pessimists are wired?

Many of us have had the experience of memories changing over time. The fish gets longer with each telling. Aspects we’ve heard from someone else can become a part of our narrative (think about suggestibility in witness testimony). Some events get merged together into a single story. I think this is one reason that people feel a growing urgency to record their memories. Another is the fear that their story will be lost forever.

Dr Kahneman points out that another place where this distinction is important is for people with dementia. They continue to have experiences, but cannot create new memories. We have the ability to create either good or bad experiences for them.

I hope this message has stimulated thoughts for you, perhaps encouraging you to explore TED talks, write down your memories, or create a positive experience for a friend with memory loss.

Susan W. Hoskins LCSW
 

Previous Messages

October 2017: HomeFriends Celebrates 30 Years!

September 2017: Annual Report

July/August 2017: Preferred Caregivers: Daughters

June 2017: Cues & Clues

May 2017: Recharging

April 2017: GrandPals Celebrate 20 Years!

March 2017: Multi-generational Households

February 2017: No One Ages Well Alone

January 2017: Help at Home

December 2016: Gratitude

November 2016: Family Caregiving

October 2016: Annual Report

September 2016: Corporate Healthcare

July/ August 2016: Strategic Planning

June 2016: Is Your Home Age- Friendly?

May 2016 Part 2 : We Need Your Help

May 2016 Part 1: Going Solo

April 2016: Volunteering

March 2016: Partners In Caring

February 2016: PSRC's Strategic Plan

January 2016: Hope

December 2015: Gratitude

November 2015: Helicopter Children

October 2015: Is Princeton An Age Friendly Community?

September 2015: Annual Report

July & August 2015: Family and Community

June 2015: A Gift that Keeps Giving

May 2015: Is 60 the New 40

April 2015: Spring

March 2015: On Being Mortal

February 2015: Mentoring

January 2015: Winter Blues

December 2014 - Leaving A Legacy

October 2014 An Age Friendly Future

September 2014 Annual Report

July - August 2014

June 2014 - Romance After 50

May 2014 - Your Virtual Estate

April 2014 - Memory and Forgetting

March 2014 - Aging in Community

Observational Stay

February 2014 - Family Caregiving

January 2014: Attitudes about Aging

December 2013 - Giving

November 2013 - Healthcare Marketplace

October 2013 - Annual Report 2013

September 2013 - Total Brain Health® Fair

July - August 2013 My cat, My Father and Me

June 2013 - Age Friendly Communities

May 2013 - Navigating a Changing HealthCare Landscape

April 2013 - Becoming Visible

March 2013 - Navigating Life’s Transitions

February 2013 - Partners in Caring Princeton

January 2013 - Men as Caregivers

December 2012 - The Safety Net

November 2012 - Going Solo

October 2012 - Documenting Your History

September 2012 - A Journey of Transformation

July - August 2012 - Gratitude & Moving

June 2012 - Diversity

May 2012- Aging in America

APRIL 2012 - TEN YEARS

March 2012 - Patient-centered Care

February 2012 - Can you Spare an Hour?

January 2012 - Challenges & Opportunities

December - Are you Prepared for Emergencies?

November - We need YOU!

October - Chocolate for Memory

September- Looking Back and Looking Forward

July - August 2011; Ageism

June 2011 - Accessibility

May 2011 - Paper retention

Knit Wits, April 2011

Lessons and Legacies, March 2011

Independent Living February 2011

Home Safety January 2011

Witness to my Life December 2010

Elections, benefits and open enrollment November 2010

Retire in 3D!

Strategic Planning September 2010

Am I Old? July 2010

Memory Clutter June 2010

Aging In America May 2010

Volunteering April 2010

Spirituality March 2010

Estate Planning February 2010

Encore Careers January 2010

Hiring Home Care December 2009

Annual Giving by Sharon Naeole November 2009

Flu Pandemic 2009 October 2009

Healthy Memory, Healthy Mind September 2009

A Personal Perspective on Caregiving July/August 2009

TRANSPORTATION May 2009

Wei Ji: Crisis, Danger and Opportunity April 2009

Write your own obituary March 2009

Hobbies February 2009

Hope and Vision in Challenging Times
January 2009

Medicare Changes 2008: Take A Look! December 2008

Scams, Frauds and Rip-offs November 2008

Engaged Retirement: Beyond Financial Planning October 2008

September 2008 Caregiver Dilemmas

Finding Rhythm and Purpose July/August 2008

Spring Cleaning II June 2008

V + OA = ER (Volunteering + Older Americans=Engaged Retirement)May 2008

Spring Cleaning April 2008

Have You Had the Talk Yet? March 2008

Get Moving with FitRhythms™! February 2008

My Condolences January 2008

Advocacy December 2007

What Are Social Services? November 2007

Sensitive Topics October 2007

Plan for the Future September 2007

The Up-side of Aging Summer 2007

Volunteering June 2007

Strategic Plan May 2007

National Conference on Aging: Let's ReThink Aging April 2007

Brain Health March 2007

Resiliency February 2007

Transportation January 2007

Season of Giving December 2006

Medicare Part D November 2006

April Hill McElroy October 2006

Civic Engagement September 2006

Change June 2006

White House Conference on Aging May 2006

Hearing Loss April 2006

GrandPals March 2006

Lets Talk February 2006

Eldertopia January 2006

Hoarding December 2005

Annual Report: November 2005

Are You Prepared? October 2005

Planning Ahead October 2005

Watch Your Language September 2005

Medicare Part D Summer 2005

Sue Tillett June 2005

The End of the Journey May 2005

Clutter March 2005

New Dietary Guidelines February 2005

Transitions January 2005

Funding December 2004

Caregiving November 2004

Civic Engagement with GrandPals October 2004

A New Look September 2004

Safe Driving Summer 2004

Food Safety June 2004

Communication June 2004

The Challenge of Giving Care May 2004

Seniors On The Move April 2004

Depression March 2004

McGreevey February 2004

Medications January 2004

Random Acts of Kindness December 2003

Civic Engagement November 2003

Reverse Mortgages Oct 2003

Emergency Preparedness, Jan 2003


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