I’ve experienced firsthand how those in my parents’ generation have had significant memory loss, some resulting in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As I approach the age when I might be termed a “senior,” I want to make a commitment to maintaining good cognitive health. Please review some specific action steps that go beyond the common advice, “Do crossword and Sudoku puzzles.”
Thank you for asking for more information. Getting old presents enough problems, so don’t start tolerating a bad memory. Unless you have Alzheimer’s disease, you can improve your memory.
Here is a general review of the basics, and in my next column I will excitedly share proven results for another memory retention approach that I have been researching.
Believe in yourself. Do things that build your confidence, make a commitment to stay positive and to help others, choose to squeeze out that last drop of joy even when times are most difficult.
Good physical health goes hand in hand with good mental health. Have a balanced diet – eat your broccoli and blueberries! Exercise your body, as improved circulation and blood flow can release stress and improve your mood. Getting a good night’s sleep is always at the top of the to-do chart for both physical and mental health. As you sleep, the brain is consolidating your memories as it processes the day’s events. (Good news, that lazy afternoon nap counts, too!)
Get better organized. Don’t waste any brain activity trying to remember every little thing, commit to putting your car keys, glasses, phone, etc., in a specific place. Yes, it will take a bit of time and effort in the beginning but worth every moment of the stressful and wasted time looking for lost items. This is also true for utilizing lists, calendars and file folders and other office tasks.
Practice intentional concentration and attention to details and situations. Distraction is one of my worst enemies. I fail to finish one thing and begin to start another only to be distracted by a third. Research shows aging does reduce a person’s ability to focus.
Keep learning and review new things as you learn them. Hobbies, reading, writing, and learning new skills help activate brain cells and stimulate concentration. Of course, there is merit to doing all kinds of puzzles and brain games.
Definitely read my next column, where I will present another scientific strategy that will improve and maintain the brain that remains.
Visit www.moment-making.com to learn more about caregiving and to submit your questions, challenges and successes. Karen Cochran Beaulieu, a resident of Sumter County, is the author of the book, “Moments that Matter, a roadmap for caregivers and their loved ones with memory loss.”