“What was I talking about before?” I had been discussing something with my friend, but had suddenly gone off on a tangent and then forgotten the original topic. This is something I do regularly, and is probably as frustrating to anyone on the receiving end of the conversation as it is to me.

I take heart from the fact that my friends do it too, and so do my parents

Only last night, a friend was talking to me about an incident that happened on holiday, during which she was reminded of something and veered off to discuss a contestant on The Apprentice, then neither of us could recall the original subject. It was much later when it came back to her and she finished her original tale.

My mum often diverges from whatever we are discussing, leaving her frustrated when neither of us can remember how the conversation began.

It’s now a proven fact that older people are more likely to go off-topic in conversation than the young.

The reason, researchers from the University of Edinburgh found, appears to be a combination of having ‘large stores of knowledge’ and being less able to stop ourselves sharing it. This, they say, may explain why some people become less coherent as they get older.

When I am chatting to people - or even interviewing them as part of my job - I struggle to suppress unnecessary information.“I can’t remember now what is was that I rang you about,” I said to my mum the other night, after spouting forth with irrelevant details about things like our cat’s flea problem and the difficulty in finding a reliable plumber.

I ended up having to call back later, when I recalled what I really wanted to say.

It’s a good job I have never been invited on Radio 4’s Just a Minute - I can’t talk for more than a few seconds without a deviation.

I always thought our brains retained less as we grew older. But if, in fact, they become overloaded, bursting with banks of information, and we mix that with forgetfulness – another symptom of ageing – no wonder our minds are all over the place.

People use the expression ‘It’s hard to think straight’ - well, often, it is.

Some days my brain feels so overloaded I don’t know - to use another well-coined phrase - whether I’m coming or going.

As I grow older - I am 57 - I am becoming far more scatty in daily life. On the phone to a friend the other day I suddenly became alarmed. “I think my car has been stolen,” I said. “It’s not on the drive - I wonder if I left my keys in it and someone has jumped in.”

It was only after a minute of two of mild panic and a split-second desire to call the police, that I remembered I had left it at the garage an hour previously for its annual MOT. I had even caught a bus home that morning, but, as I changed the beds, sorted the recycling, washed up, and caught up on work, I’d forgotten.

I know absent-mindedness it is a normal part of ageing, but, at moments like that, it can be disconcerting.

Now I make lists of everything, from shopping to bill paying, even what I plan to say to people on the phone. And when I speak to anyone, if I really want to get a message across, I have to remember to stick to the point.