As we get older, we begin to see changes in the way we remember things.
Perhaps you went into your kitchen and cannot recall the reason why or you can’t remember a name you should know during your chat with a family member. You might have forgotten an appointment because it slipped your mind. Lapses in memory can happen no matter how old you are. However, we usually fear it more when getting older since they might be an indicator of dementia or a decline in intellectual capabilities. The truth is, though, that serious memory loss in the elderly isn’t a typical part of getting older. Residents of Alzheimer’s care facilities are only there because of neurological illness, organic disorders, or brain injuries.
The majority of the fleeting memory problems that we have as we get older just reflect on how our brain is changing its structure and functioning. The changes can make specific cognitive processes slow, making it more challenging to learn new information quickly or screening out distractions that can make it harder to remember and learn things. Of course, these issues can be annoying and may seem far from harmless when we want to learn a new skill or multitask more effectively. Thankfully, due to many decades of studies, there are a multitude of ways we can keep our minds sharp and protected as we age. Here are some of the best ways that work well in Alzheimer’s care facilities.
1.) Continuous Learning
Science has shown how chronic, low-grade inflammation can become a silent killer, contributing to cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and more deadly illnesses. The more education a person has, the better they are at functioning mentally at an older age. Experts believe that higher education can help in keeping the memory strong because it keeps a person in the habit of staying mentally active. Keeping the brain challenged with mental exercises is said to activate the processes that help in maintaining specific brain cells and also helping them communicate with each other. Plenty of people also have careers that challenge them mentally – learning a new skill or doing a new hobby can also serve the same purpose of keeping them mentally fit. Some good options in the pursuit of mental exercise are:
- Joining a book club
- Playing bridge or chess
- Writing a novel
- Jigsaw or crossword puzzles
- Taking classes
- Pursuing art or music
- Designing a new garden layout
- Utilize all of the senses
2.) Train Your Senses
The more you use your senses for the purpose of learning, the harder your brain will have to work to retain the memory. When you have to learn something new, try to get all of your senses involved somehow. For instance, when trying a new restaurant dish, try and guess the ingredients while smelling and tasting the dish. Also, try out ceramics or sculpting and notice the smell and feel of the materials used in the activity.
3.) Build Your Self Confidence Up
Believe it or not, believing in aging myths can make your memory worse in the long run. In fact, older and middle-aged learners have a harder time remembering things after they are exposed to negative stereotypes concerning memory and aging. On the other hand, they have greater memory success when they believe they are capable of preserving their memory into older age. This is probably because those who think that they have no control over their memory are less likely to try and improve or maintain their memory skills and are thus more susceptible to cognitive decline. If you believe in yourself and strive to improve your memory with practice, then you’ll have a higher chance of keeping your mind and memory sharp for longer and into old age.
4.) Organize and Declutter
If you aren’t required to spend mental energy trying to recall where you put your keys or what time your grandson’s birthday party is, then you’ll be able to put that energy instead into learning endeavors that require concentration. So, make planners, calendars, maps, file folders, shopping lists, and address books a key part of your life in order to make routine information easily accessible. Also, set up a central place for your keys, glasses, purse, and any other items that you need to access often. Declutter your home or office to keep distractions at bay. That way, you can focus all of your attention on new information that you need to remember.
5.) Repetition Does Help
When trying to recall information that you just heard, thought about, or read, then repeat it aloud or write it down. This way, you’ll reinforce the connection or memory. For instance, say that someone just told you their name. In that case, use it right away to help retain it in your memory. Say, “Hello Matthew, nice to meet you.” And if you need to put something in a different spot than where you usually do, then remind yourself out loud what you are doing. Also, when speaking with someone, don’t be shy to ask for the information to be repeated. Folks at Alzheimer’s care facilities expect this and are always happy to oblige.
6.) Space Out Your Memorization Sessions
Repetition is an incredibly useful learning tool when timed properly. For example, it’s better not to repeat something too many times in a short period. Exam cramming is a common example of inefficient memorization. What you should do instead is keep yourself abreast of the essential information after sufficiently long periods of time. One way that works is studying the essentials every hour for a while. Then every few hours, and then once a day. This is especially helpful for trying to learn complex information, like the details for a new work project. According to research, spacing out rehearsals of information benefits not only healthy people but also those who have specific physical-based cognitive problems (like multiple sclerosis).
7.) Use Mnemonics
This is a popular and creative method of memorizing lists. A common mnemonic method is utilizing acronyms. One example is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), which is an aid for remembering first aid procedures.