You can’t remember where you parked your car!  You arrive at the shopping center with your friend. You park, walk in, and are in conversation about where you might want to eat lunch. Hours later, when returning to that store, you don’t remember which door you came in. Not only that, once you remember the door,  you walk outside to try to get your bearings, and you still have no idea where your car is. Lucky for you, you have a key fob and can locate your car by the beeping horn.

In the same way, you may constantly be searching for; keys, pen, glasses, cell phone, pretty much anything a person lays down without thinking. You start wondering if you have Alzheimer’s disease. You start to question yourself, and worry about past lapses in memory.

The truth is, that as we age we can start to have problems with distraction. The memory is like a bank, you make deposits and when you need that information you make withdrawals. In this scenario, you never made that deposit into your memory bank. Due to the distraction of talking to a friend you never made a mental note of where you parked.  Which door you came in, and what merchandise was located at that entrance.

The inability to think or reason your way out of this situation could be a sign of mild cognitive impairment, but could more likely be due to stress. The awareness that you are having trouble focusing, and thinking through this problem are good things. Awareness is a good thing. When a person no longer thinks things through, weighs the pros and cons, uses critical thinking and their common sense seems to be out the door, that is the loss of reason. Losing the ability to reason, is cause for concern, not occasionally forgetting where you parked.

So should losing your car in parking lot, lead you to making an emergency appointment with your doctor? Probably not, what is more telling is how you handled it.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing