Guest Op-Ed: Oh, the Woe of Losing Things

By Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Socks, gloves, ink-pens. The sneaky universe steals these things from me. Or the Sock Fairy visits while I sleep and hides one sock of each color. Or a hungry Glove Grinch lives in my coat pocket. And I’ve left countless umbrellas behind—only to be reminded on the next rainy day. I am the queen of losing one earring. 

The Mystery of Missing Socks

Why do socks disappear? A sock monster with lots of feet. A black hole in the washer or dryer. Socks get divorced. What’s the deal?

Here is one theory. During the wash, a sock runs away from home and creeps into the laundry drum. The rotations separate items and a sock gets caught behind the drum or into the wastewater hose. 

The Mystery of Missing Gloves

We can understand why kids lose gloves, but what about adults? This winter I purchased new gloves and vowed to pay attention and not lose one. Within two weeks, I had an orphan glove. Did the mate jump out of my pocket and join the hand circus? I threw a party for a lost glove reunion, but no luck.

Memory Loss Related to Emotional Problems

“Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, can make a person more forgetful and can be mistaken for dementia. For instance, someone who has recently retired or who is coping with the death of a spouse, relative, or friend may feel sad, lonely, worried, or bored. Trying to deal with these life changes leaves some people feeling confused or forgetful,” according to article by the National Institute on Aging. 

Memory problems can occur from trying to juggle too many balls in the air; not enough sleep from burning the candle at both end; and runaway stress. Some drugs list memory loss as a side effect.

Age-Related Changes in Memory

“Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they don’t remember information as well as they did, or they lose things like their glasses. These usually are signs of mild forgetfulness, not serious memory problems, like Alzheimer’s disease.”

What’s Normal

Absentmindedness occurs when you aren’t paying close attention to the activity at hand. Occasionally forgetting where you placed things. Forgetting facts over time. Like computers, our brains need to purge old data to make room for new. A “tip of the tongue” memory slip that you remember later. Utilizing reminders to help you remember. Despite memory lapses, if your personality and mood remain the same, it’s a good indicator that it’s probably not something more serious. That’s according to Helena Chang Chui, MD, a neurologist at Keck Medicine of USC.

I lose my car in parking lots, often. Is misplacing your cell phone, purse, or keys part of your daily routine? Do you put special things in special places to not forget, and then forget? The land of the lost has recently claimed a pair of my favorite glasses. 

My solutions: Wear mismatched socks on my hands and outsmart the Sock Fairy and the Glove Grinch. Handcuff car keys to my wrist. And buy an old lady eyeglass chain or strap.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Ohio. Contact her at [email protected].

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