By Betty Berry, Tuesday, Oct. 11

QUESTION: As we grow older, many of us have what we jokingly refer to as “senior moments.” However, I think that when these senior moments occur, we are all a little worried that we are starting to have a memory-loss problem. Can you shed any light on this?

ANSWER: A number of years ago, I attended a seminar by the Alzheimer’s Association where this very subject was addressed. At the end of the session, all attendees were provided with a very useful packet of information. That packet contained a list of normal vs. abnormal situations. I have kept that list all these years and will share it with you.

If you forget where you left your keys, that is normal. However, if you find those keys and don’t know what they are for, that is abnormal.

Repeating a story to a friend that you have previously told is normal, but if you repeat the same question over and over in the same day to the same person, that is not normal.

Forgetting what you ate for breakfast yesterday is very normal but forgetting you ate breakfast just 15 minutes ago is not normal.

If you are disoriented for a moment upon waking up in a strange hotel room while traveling, it is certainly normal. However, getting lost in your own home where you have lived for years is abnormal.

Forgetting to turn off the boiling eggs and burning the pot on occasion is perfectly normal. Having no memory of putting the eggs in that pot or turning on the burner is abnormal.

Sometimes forgetting where you parked your car at the mall is very normal. But forgetting you drove to the mall or have a car is abnormal.

Forgetting details of a vacation you took 10 years ago is normal. But forgetting you went on a trip last week is not normal.

Forgetting where you left your checkbook is normal. However, forgetting in which bank you have your checking account is not normal.

If you forget the name of a star in a movie you have just seen, it is a normal occurrence. Not remembering the name of the movie or going to that movie at all is abnormal.

And last but certainly not least — worrying that you are having memory problems is very, very normal, but being unaware that you have a memory loss is not.

I thought this list was very interesting and hope you find so also.

QUESTION: I am not sure when I am required to take a distribution from my retirement account. Can you help?

ANSWER: You must begin taking distributions at age 70 ½ or face stiff IRS imposed penalties. If you will be age 70 ½ by Dec. 31, 2011, you have until April 1, 2012, to begin taking your required minimum distributions, known as RMDs, from your account.

This will meet your 2011 distribution requirement. However, once distributions begin, you must take them annually by Dec. 31. That means you will need to take your next RMD by Dec. 31, 2012, regardless of when your 2011 RMD was taken.

RMD rules apply to traditional IRAs, rollover IRAs, Simple IRAs, SEP. IRAs, 403(b)s and certain employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k) plans.

Roth IRAs are not subject to distribution requirements until after the IRA owner’s death. If you are not sure, check with the holder of your retirement account to determine what action you need to take and when.


The seminar Understanding Medicare and Changes for 2012″ will be offered three times in the next week:

• 1:30 to 3 p.m. today at Westlake Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive, Westlake Village.

• Friday at the Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi, Simi Valley. For reservations, call 583-6363.

• Monday at Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks. For reservations, call 381-2744.


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