Do you find yourself speaking the phrase ‘Oh! I forgot!’ more than you like?
The good news, you are not alone.
Better news, there are things that you can do about it.
After all, we are our memories.
They give our biological biographies sans Facebook. They are:
the stories we tell ourselves
who we are connected to
who we have touched during our lives
and who has touched us.
Without our memories, we would be, well, a stranger!
Memory loss affects the practical side of life. It’s a problem when you have trouble remembering how to get from your house to the grocery store or how to do the tasks that make up your job. Losing your memory means both losing your ability to live independently and not being able to remember your past experiences.
So here are 7 suggestions on what you can do to keep your memory, well, yours:
Keep learning: a higher level of education is associated with better mental functioning in old age. Mental activity is good at all ages; new things are believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them.
Keep it fun: While people may be stimulated at work, that can become part of a routine. Also having a hobby or learning a new skill can keep the brain stimulated and stimulating. Read; join a book group; play chess, cards, Scrabble or other board games; write your life story; write a kids book; do crossword or jigsaw puzzles; take a class; pursue music or art; design a new garden layout. Volunteer for a project that involves a skill you don’t usually use. Lifelong learning is both fun and good for your brain and hence, your memory.
Use all your senses: The more senses you use in learning something, the more of your brain will be involved in retaining the memory. Try cooking and do not be scared to touch the meat and vegetables. Make sausage, pie or knead dough…get your senses of sight, touch and smell all involved…with music in the background…nothing less!
Remember what is important: I read once that Einstein did not bother remembering phone numbers – he could jot them down in his address book. That makes a lot of sense to me. Use calendars, notebooks, agendas and lists to keep things flowing. Check them often. Designate places at home for your glasses, purse, keys, and other items. Reduce clutter, get extra sets, make filing and tidying up fun by rewarding yourself when it is done! Minimize distractions so you can focus when you need to get important things done!
Repeat, repeat, repeat: When you want to remember something you’ve just heard, read, or thought about, repeat it out loud and/or write it down. Listening is good; repeating is better but writing it down may be best. You reinforce connection and may jot down a note on why you thought it was significant. Use a highlighter if you want to highlight the thought in a book or magazine to come back later (on Word I learned to use footnotes – quite easy).
Make a mnemonic: Mnemonic devices can take the form of acronyms (such as TEAM to remember Together Everyone Achieves More) or sentences (such as the classic “Every good boy deserves fudge” to remember the musical notes E, G, B, D, and F on the lines of the treble clef). Mimes are popular for this as well…it does not matter if others do not get it, it matters that you get it!
I think I can I think I can: Like the little engine that could, he could, because he thought he could. Stories about aging can contribute to a failing memory. Older learners do worry about memory tasks and often do worse at them. People who believe that memory functioning is outside of their control often experience cognitive decline. If you believe you can improve and exercise for that improvement, you have a better chance of succeeding.
The ability to remember does change with age. Many of these changes are normal, and not a sign of dementia. Concerns of memory loss do rank among the top fears as people get older.
If your memory is still healthy — even if you’re forgetting a bit more than you’d like — now is the time to commit to protecting your brain and keeping it healthy.
One of the key components of this memory-saving program is to keep the rest of your body healthy.
Many medical conditions — from heart disease to depression — can affect your memory.
Staying physically and mentally active turns out to be among the best prescriptions for maintaining a healthy brain and a resilient memory. Body and mind… exercise them regularly and in a variety of fashions.