Forgetfulness Fixes

Healthy Aging
August 13, 2011

Tips to improve your memory.

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Forgetfulness is a natural part of life and may become more pronounced as you age. The National Institute on Aging states, “Although [our] perceptions flow into our sensory memory automatically, they decay within seconds if we do not consciously attend to them.” The answer? Work on being alert and focused, as well as give your mind a little bit of extra stimulation every now and then in order to consciously attend to the stream of information that flows into your brain every moment. By working to “tone” your brain, you can teach it to discard trivial details, while retaining the things that are important for you to remember.

Make life engaging and stimulating. One of the best forgetfulness fixes is simply to find stimulation. As you age, you’re more and more likely to resort to the same comfortable routines, stick to the same activities and old haunts, and have very little new in your life. You may be amazed at how your forgetfulness fades as you seek out things in which to be interested — read a book about something you’ve always wanted to learn, get out in the community and socialize, volunteer or even take community education classes. Boredom and depression will lull your brain into a low-functioning haze unless you give it something to do.

Build routines. Not all of the old routines are bad, especially if you now continually forget to eat on time or take medications, or cannot remember where you put items that you use every day. Set up designated times for these activities, and organize your essential possessions into easy-to-find locations so that you don’t have the stress of forgetting them. Don’t be afraid to take notes, set alarms or remind yourself in other ways — this frees up your brain so that it can focus on more important things.

Set memory cues. Consciously remembering information may mean visualizing it, saying it to yourself several times or making wacky associations that you’re bound to remember. Visual pictures can be something that represents the sound of someone’s name, or maybe they’re tied to characters in books or movies, historical events or other similar memory cues. There are countless effective mnemonic devices that you can use to make remembering a cinch, and you may discover that it’s even easier to avoid forgetfulness than when you were younger.