You don’t. We get ourselves in too much trouble when we pretend to do anything.
Being honest helps us live more in line with the facts of our life — we forgot a person’s name.
Sure you feel embarrassed as I did, when…
I called the recent widow of our late town council member. Unsure of her name, I was honest (and embarrassed), when I said, “Hello, this is Brenda Avadian…I am sorry, I just went blank on your name.”
She giggled then told me her name.
Trying to dance delicately on egg shells adds to the stress we feel about forgetting. Honesty is best. Humble admission of forgetting brings out the best in us. And if the person is offended (only rarely), Oh well!
How do you politely ask a person’s name when you should already know it?
Well, this is a hard one. If the person is your spouse, this could be embarrassing; especially, if you have not been diagnosed with dementia…yet!
Still, we must be honest!
Yes, I agree, there is only so much embarrassment one can take!
Midway through our conversation, I forgot her name again. I knew it began with S, forgot everything in the middle, and vaguely recalled that it ended in an i, e, or y.
I asked her, to spell it after confidently volunteering the first letter, “S….”
She saved me further embarrassment and finished spelling her name.
Using the above approach can help you save face when re-learning a person’s name. Of course, there have been occasions when the person replies, “Oh, it’s spelled in the typical way.”
Uhhh, typical…hmmmmm. “I live in California. Even typical needs clarification!”
The honest approach, especially for caregivers for cognitively impaired adults (resulting from causes such as Alzheimer’s or stroke) is to confess, which I did:
“Okay, I’m getting worried that all the work I do with people with Alzheimer’s and their families is starting to rub off on me…for the third time during this minute that we’ve been talking, what did you say your name is?”
Most often, people laugh, make a comment like, “I’m getting worried about you.” Or if they’re equally stressed, “I understand. We all need to work less!” Then they offer their name.
After all this, I repeated her name then continued using it throughout the rest of our conversation.
Forgetting names happens to all of us. With so much more information coming at us everyday than a few decades ago, it’s no wonder we forget!
Now, what did you say your name is?