October 11, 2011
This is something to remember: Mental and physical exercises, healthy choices and routine lists are ways to overcome forgetful tendencies. And additional companionship could help.
Q. I'm an 80-year-old who still loves to socialize but find myself forgetting names and other details, like appointments, which can be quite embarrassing. What can I do to improve my memory?
Many seniors discover that their memory starts to fade as they get older. While memory impairment is associated with aging, there are ways to keep the mind strong as well as to improve the memory.
The experts that we talked with say the first step is to get a physical to make sure that no illnesses or conditions, such as hearing or vision loss, thyroid dysfunction or medications, are contributing to your memory loss. When you get a clean bill of health, try to stay both mentally and physically active by stimulating the mind with activities like reading. Also, avoid bad health habits such as smoking and excess alcohol consumption.
In addition, the Johns Hopkins Health After 50 Memory Resource Center (copyright Medletter Associates) offers these tips:
Write It Down
If you have trouble remembering phone numbers or appointments, write them down and place the list in a conspicuous spot. Making a daily “to do” list can serve as a reminder of important tasks and obligations. In fact, the practice of writing notes and making lists reinforces memory. Make a checklist and place it by the front door. Go through the list before leaving the house.
Say It Out Loud
Incorporating someone’s name into the conversation just after you have met him or her will give you an extra verbal reminder when you later try to recall that person. For example, saying, "Very nice to meet you, Jennifer," will help consolidate the memory of this name.
Use Visual Images
When learning new information, such as someone’s name, create a visual image in your mind to make the information more vivid and, therefore, more memorable. For example, if you have just been introduced to a Mr. Hackman, imagine him hacking his way through a dense jungle with a machete.
Interacting with others also can be terrific mental stimulation, so the fact that you like to socialize is a great pastime for that purpose. If you think you would benefit from additional companionship, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care® office. The organization matches CAREGiversSM with clients of similar interests. The companionship of a CAREGiver can help keep you mentally alert and physically active.
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