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Rote Memorization Could Improve Seniors’ Memories

Various studies and research through the years have discovered other ways to improve the memory such as participating in activities that require you to think, including crossword puzzles and music lessons.
Various studies and research through the years have discovered other ways to improve the memory such as participating in activities that require you to think, including crossword puzzles and music lessons.

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June 21, 2011

Memorization has been found to be an effective way to keep the brain active, according to research. So, too, can a healthy lifestyle and companionship.

Q. Is there any new research about ways that seniors can improve their memories? If so, please share that information with seniors and their families.

A study released at an annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago has revealed that memorization is an effective way to combat memory loss.

About 40 percent of people over the age of 60 have some kind of memory impairment. So the researchers decided to study how repeated cognitive exercise impacts memory and recall, as well as the health of brain cells involved in memory.

The study involved 24 healthy older adults between the ages of 55 and 70. The volunteers engaged in six weeks of intensive rote learning, memorizing a newspaper article or poem of 500 words, followed by six weeks of rest.

“We didn't see an immediate improvement following the intensive memorization period,” said Jonathan McNulty, B.Sc., H.Dip., of Diagnostic Imaging at the School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin in Ireland. “However, after a six-week rest, the volunteers manifested both metabolic changes in the brain and improved memory performance.”

Various studies and research through the years have discovered other ways to improve the memory such as participating in activities that require you to think, including crossword puzzles and music lessons. Physical activity and a healthy diet also are important factors in brain health.

“Unlike other studies on memory involving specific training regimes, memorizing is an everyday activity that anyone can undertake,” said Radiological Society co-author Richard Roche, Ph.D., of the Department of Psychology at National University of Ireland in Maynooth. “The brain is like a muscle that should be exercised through the retirement years as a defense against dementia, cognitive lapses and memory failure.”

Many of these activities, including memory exercises, can be enhanced with companionship. So if you’re living alone, why not seek out others in a church group or senior center, where there’s usually plenty of action for older adults.

If you don’t have regular companionship, consider hiring a CAREGiverSM from Home Instead Senior Care®. The company makes every effort to match CAREGivers with seniors of similar interests. A good friend might be just the motivation you need to make lifestyle changes that can improve your memory as well as your overall health.

For more about the study visit http://www.rsna.org/media/pressreleases/pr_target.cfm?ID=297.

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