Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 62– 5/27/15
As a person from the middle years of the baby boomer generation (born in the fifties), I’m at an age where my memory is a concern. I don’t want to lose it, and I want to keep my brain functioning well for as long as I can. At work or in social situations, I regularly hear people of my age, and even younger, complaining of memory problems. It doesn’t have to be that way – we have some power over it. We just need to take some simple steps, not only to improve our memory, but also to enhance our overall brain function.
I know that at age 58, my memory is simply not trustworthy. Brain farts are a common occurrence. Too often, I resort to making lists and notes to remember things. Recent notes have included gentle reminders such as: take shower, go to work and make dinner. Ok, I’m just kidding, my memory isn’t that bad.
I’ve also gotten to the point of speaking to inanimate objects, such as the stove; as in, “I’ve shut off the stove.” This is so I won’t go crazy on my drive back to work, wondering if I turned the darn thing off. I guess I won’t worry too much about this until I start having long conversations with my appliances.
My husband points out that since I’m always in a hurry, my memory is not the problem; it’s simply lack of concentration. Memory experts would agree with that assertion. One way to combat that age-related forgetfulness is to take the time to focus on what it is you want to remember. Distracted thinking leads to memory ‘burps.’
People who research this kind of stuff also point out that there are ways we can proactively address age-related memory issues. The actions I’ve taken, though they may sound silly, are actually good for my memory.
Experts point out that making lists of important tasks helps keep them in your memory banks. Nowadays, you don’t need an old fashioned pen and paper list – cell phones provide reminder and note making applications.
Also, saying things out loud, such as repeating the name of a person after you’re introduced, helps store that information for later retrieval.
A common sense way of keeping track of your reading glasses, keys or other commonly lost item is by simply putting them in the same spot every day. My husband is always preaching about this to me, and I have to admit that he seldom loses things.
Another way to remember something like a person’s name is to create a picture in your mind based on the name. Which isn’t so tough if a person’s name is Harry Snow! Other names might be more difficult to create a mind visualization.
We can also make some lifestyle modifications to enhance our memory and other cognitive functions. This includes regular exercise to increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Healthier eating and including antioxidant-rich foods to our diets is also important. Playing strategic games, learning a new language, journaling, and taking an online college course can also help our brain functions. Taking charge of our brain health is an important step for vital aging.
When I did some research on the subject of memory, I found out what we all know to be true: some memory loss is simply normal as we age. It’s common for a person to occasionally lose their keys – what’s scary is forgetting what keys are used for, which can be a sign of dementia. People who have concerns about memory issues may want to address it with their doctors, to see if an underlying condition is causing it. If so, dealing with that condition will improve the memory concerns.
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