How to Boost your Memory

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.

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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. 

For Further Reading:

Simple Techniques for Improving Memory 

Memory Boosters for Seniors: Vitamin b12 & Folic Acid

Improve your Memory with a Good Night’s Sleep

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009 – 2015

Age-Related Memory Loss or Alzheimer’s?

Be sure to visit my new blog:  Vital Aging 4 Women 

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A few nights ago, Bea had a Girls’ Night Out scheduled with 4 of her girlfriends.  She strolled into the restaurant about 10 minutes befoe 6:00, noticed that no one else had arrived yet, and asked the hostess for a table for five, please.  Bea ordered a coffee with a shot of Bailey’s  and happily munched on the bread basket contents while she waited for her buddies.  And waited.  Watched the door, waited some more.

Around 6:10, she started wondering.  “Hmmm, where the heck are they?”  She thought to herself.  “How nervy, making me wait!”  She commented to the waiter, “Here I sit, with my invisible friends!”  He chuckled.  Bea chuckled.  Then decided it was time for action.

She called one friend, got her voicemail, left a message:  “Hey, did you leave yet?  I’m waiting here and no one’s shown up yet!”  Bea called a second friend, J,  and lo and behold, she answered the phone.  “What’s up, why are you still home? I’m sitting here at Sajo’s!”  J answered:  “We’re meeting tomorrow night!”

What the???  Holy crap.  Bea showed up on the wrong night for our GNO!  Now what?  Should she go home, or simply eat alone?  While she was waiting, she had perused the menu, and was craving salmon, not leftovers in her fridge.  The waiter would think she was nuts!

Then Bea’s phone rang, and it was her friend, M.  “I’m here alone,” Bea said, sounding pitiful.  “What are you doing?”  M. had just sat down to dinner with her hubby, but because she’s Bea’s best friend, she ditched him and drove to the restaurant to keep her company.

The two of them had a good laugh over Bea’s brain fart. But it also made Bea feel like she’s losing her marbles!  She still can’t believe she forgot what night she was supposed to meet her friends.  As she thought back on the last couple of months, Bea realized that over the past couple of months, she had been plagued by other little memory losses.

Does this kind of thing ever happen to you? Do you ever wonder if it’s just a blip on the old brain, or something more scary?

Bea has written prior posts about Alzheimer’s, but never answered the question about what types of memory lapses might indicate the possible onset of the disease. This information was easy to find, simply by going to the Alzheimer’s Association website at www.alz.org.  According to what she read, Bea can be assured that she is, in fact, simply having normal age-related memory lapses.

The site has an article that discusses the 10 early signs of this disease.  If you fear that you may displaying early signs, or a family member or friend might be, take a look at these early indicators:

  1.  Alzheimer’s may be rearing its head if a person starts forgetting things they’ve recently learned, or if they forget a very important date, or if they begin verifying information with others again and again.
  2. A person may start having a difficult time making plans or solvingproblems.  They may have difficulty concentrating and keeping track of routine things in their daily lives.
  3. Having a difficult time with completing routine tasks; for example, forgetting how to get to their local supermarket.
  4. Time or place confusion; when a person forgets what year it is. Another disturbing sign is if someone forgets where they are or how they got there.
  5. Vision problems that may affect a person’s ability to drive. These problems include “difficulty reading, judging distance, and determining color or contrast.” *
  6. Normal aging often has us trying to figure out a word that’s “on the tip of our tongue.” A person with early signs of Alzheimer’s may be unable to follow a normal conversation and may repeat themselves.  Additionally, their vocabulary may become hindered – they forget what certain items are called, and give them a substitute name.
  7. A person may misplace items, putting them in the wrong place.  For example, putting keys in the refrigerator.  After misplacing something, they are unable to retrace their steps to find it.
  8. A person may begin to make bad decisions and use poor judgment.  Personal grooming may be ignored.
  9. While it’s normal to occasionally want to bow out of social obligations, a person with Alzheimer’s may begin to regularly withdraw themselves from hobbies, social connections, and so forth.
  10. Finally, a disturbing sign is that a person’s personality may change negatively, and they may become moody.  A person who was outgoing and friendly may become suspicious of others, develop fearful or anxious behaviors.  When their level of routine comfort is disturbed, they may become upset.

The Alzheimer’s Association points out that it is very important to detect Alzheimer’s as early as possible.  Early treatment can help relieve symptoms and may delay the further worsening of symptoms.

* Alzheimer’s Association. 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

For further reading:

10 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power

 

 

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Have GPS, Will Travel

 

Don’t even bother, Mr. B.

 

Bea’s husband is “navigationally challenged.”  A fancy way of saying he gets lost simply trying to drive through our neighborhood.  So he bought a GPS, and now he can drive to our local McDonald’s without a problem.  Bea warned him that he’s “dumbing himself down” by using that GPS (who, by the way, has an annoying voice) but, being a typical man, he never listens to his wife.

It actually appears that getting lost is a genetic trait in his family. A few of his siblings can’t find their way around town, either. Who’da thunk that DNA, along with giving a person blue eyes, brown hair, and skinny legs, would also pass along a “just get lost” gene?

Luckily for Mr. Boomer, if the GPS has a nervous breakdown from trying to direct him all the time, both Mrs. B. and the Boomer offspring, Ms. B., have a great sense of direction.  (Especially when it comes to finding shopping malls and their favorite Mexican restaurants – Go figure).

Bea can actually read a paper map! *Gasp.* And daughter Boomer only has to drive somewhere once, and she can get back to that spot blindfolded.  I kid you not.

WebMD says it’s all in our brains.  Navigational skills, that is. It’s got something to do with our hippocampus, the memory part of our brains. Some of us simply have better recognition and spatial memory in that old hippocampus of ours.  Read more in WebMD’s article,  Why Do You Always Get Lost? .

The article also says that we can improve our sense of direction; Mr. Boomer may have to look into that . . .

 

For Further Reading:

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