Behavior: The Twilight of Memory

Its gradual loss distorts conversations of the elderly

The elderly are often considered cantankerous, demanding, self-centered and just plain hard to get along with. Much of that is simple prejudice on the part of the young, and some of what passes for senility has been traced to physical disease. Now a British researcher reports that many unlovable traits of the elderly come from the gradual loss of memory, and the embarrassment it brings.

The researcher, Patrick Rabbitt, 46, is an Oxford University psychologist who specializes in the problems of aging, including memory loss. Over the years, Rabbitt has found that people 70 and...

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