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Lately, I’ve noticed that fewer and fewer people are making jokes about “senior moments” or harmless lapses in memory. I’m not so sure that political correctness or sudden cases of sensitivity are the reasons. In fact, I’m 100 percent certain that the increased attention we’re all giving to Alzheimer’s and Dementia is the reason.
I just want to say, “Thank goodness!” for all the atttention. Everytime I see a news story or article about Alzheimer’s or Dementia, I get excited. The more attention we bring to mental health, the better the odds become of defeating the beast once and for all.
Sadly, we haven’t defeated it yet. 5 percent of people aged 65 and older fall victim to Alzheimer’s while a much larger portion over 80 fall victim. So, no, the world doesn’t find “innocent” little lapses in memory to be as funny as we once did.
The good news is therre is a swelling amount of evidence that memory lapses DO NOT necessarily foreshadow dementia. Best of all, the tendency to have lapses in memory can be lessened while REDUCING YOUR RISK OF DEMENTIA.
The solution? Mind aerobics!
Below is a 10 Step Memory Workout courtesy of the AARP.
- Exercise regularly. Study after study prove that aerobic activity reduces the loss of brain tissue common with aging. The brain LOVES the increased oxygen.
- Stick to a healthy diet. Avoid sugar and saturated fat. Eat lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, spinach, and beets. The magnesium found in dark green, leafy vegetables appears to help maintain memory.
- Learn new things. Aim for learning something new everyday as well as learning as many new activities as you can. Embrace stretching your mind and horizons. Some examples are: Learn a new language, learn to play the piano, learn to play the guitar, take up a new sport such as tennis, golf, or bowling, learn card games, throw yourself into animal activism, take up bird watching, etc. Basically, just stimulate your neuron activity by exposing it to something brand new and exciting!
- Get enough sleep. This is one a lot of people overlook, but it’s very important. Too little sleep impairs concentration as well as hinders your body from repairing itself when needed. Be certain you’re getting enough sleep!
- Get organized. Searching for missing keys, cellphones, or other personal properties can be frustrating and time-consuming – to say nothing of the blow it deals to your ego. Designate a particular place for everything. If you carry your cellphone from room to room, make a certain spot in each room where you’ll ALWAYS place it. When it turns up missing (and, come on, let’s be honest – it will!), it can only be in a certain number of spots. When you travel, keep a checklist for medications, vitamins, eyeglasses, toiletries, and so on.
- Devise memory strategies. Make notes or underline key passages to help you remember what you’ve read. Invent mnemonics formulas to help you remember things. These memory aids are usually verbal “tricks” to help the individual associate certain facts. “i before e except after c” is one of the most popular ones, while “In 1942 Columbus sailed the ocean blue” is another one. When I was homeschooling my daughters, I had a lot of fun coming up with little poems or sentences to help them remember facts that could otherwise be nightmarish.
- Socialize. Carrying on positive conversations with others helps maintain brain function.
- Turn off the tube. Experts say too much TV can weaken the brain. However, educational television shows can help you in your quest to learn something new each day. Animal Planet, The Discovery Channel, and the History Channel all provide great “lessons” in the comfort of your own living room!
- Jot down new information. Writing things down helps transfer the information from short to long-term memory. That’s why you’ll never see me reading anything without pen and paper nearby. I learned in elementary school that if you write something down, it’ll stay with you MUCH longer than it will if you don’t.
- Solve brainteasers. Crossword puzzles, card games, and board games (Scrabble, Trivia Pursuit…) improve your memory. Make it a point to work the puzzles in your newspaper each day. It’ll become a daily routine that’ll serve you well. I LOVE the mind games found HERE – I play them every single day and can practically feel the rush my brain gets! Street of Dreams and Wild Word Garden are probably my two favorites, but if I ever branched out I’m sure I’d discover other great games, too. Give them a try, I promise you’ll get hooked. And your brain will thank you for it.
Make each moment count double!