Fear of Fading: Can We Maintain Our Edge During the Aging Process?

By Richard Handler

November/December 2007

Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife
By Cathryn Jakobson Ramin
HarperCollins Publishers. 311 pp. ISBN: 0-060-59869-7

Just before I sat down to bang out this review, I met a friend for coffee at a neighborhood cafe. As we left, she pointed out that I'd forgotten to take my bag and hat, which were tucked on the ledge under the window. The day before, I'd forgotten the same bag at a brunch. My wife had to turn the car around for me to run into the house and fetch it.

That's the small stuff. Earlier in the summer, I returned from a bus trip from Buffalo to Toronto. In my living room, I opened my trusty glasses case and discovered that my reading glasses weren't there. I couldn't remember what I'd done with them. Where could I have dropped them? Small stuff still, you think. But the reading glasses were prescriptions, replete with costly no-glare and no-scratch coatings. Losing these glasses really bothered me. Damn, I thought, cursing myself and the fickle gods of memory!

Who hasn't got similar stories? How many things have you lost? Do you worry about fading memory—or whether these "senior moments" are the start of some horrible dementia or Alzheimer's? It's all a part of midlife decline, a time of life that could begin in your forties or later—or earlier!

This is the situation Cathryn Jakobson Ramin finds herself in, like many of us. She's an ambitious, busy freelance writer, who lives in…

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