Ssh! Don’t tell anyone, but I have noticed I have a hard time remembering something every once in awhile. Not too often. but enough to hope it doesn’t get any worse. Maybe as I get – verry, verry slooowly, a bit older. It’s not just losing my car in the parking lot – I’ve done that regularly since I took my dad’s car to a nearby shopping center when I was about 16 – lost the car and had to wait until almost everyone had left to find it – it still happens usually not quite to that extent. This is more like the occasional word that slips my mind, the specific item I went to the store to buy and I come home without it.
Memory is a complex process than even trained scientists don’t fully understand, and there are various types of remembering processes – short or long-term memory, semantic memory (this is how we remember to ride a bike or swim), etc. It’s the episodic memory, the ability to remember specific nuggets of information like people’s names, events and dates that we’ll work on today.
Brain activity does slow down with the aging process, but with the proper care and stimuli, brand new nerve cells and the connections between them can be generated to increase brain function. In other words, “use it or lose it.” So, yes, you do want to exercise your brain just like you exercise your body (or should!) for its best performance.
Here are a few tips to help boost our brain and memory power.
I like to use some post-its. They’re handy for quick reminders but you probably don’t want them to decorate the walls of your home or office with them. Use them for quick reminders you can toss once you’ve taken care of whatever the post-it reminded you to do. I also keep some around the edges of my computer to help me learn a new password, phone number, etc. Again, I toss them once I no longer need them and all my passwords and my phone numbers are filed away so I can locate them when I need them.
It sounds simple but it’s easy to forget to do it. Pay attention to the details whenever it’s something that confuses you. And, ask questions when you don’t understand something.
If you’re meeting a blond lady in a drop dead red dress – think “Lisa is a blond bombshell in red.” That will help you remember who she is. Think – “Sally is my boss’s secretary.” – S = Sally. And, so on.
This is simply taking association to a higher level. “Lisa is that blond bombshell who told me she enjoys playing tennis” – visualize her playing tennis in that red dress! Greg is a golfer so remember him standing next to a bucket of balls, hitting one after another, and another, and another. A little corny but it works.
Calendar/Organizer/Computer Program/Palm Pilot
Write all your appointments and your to do list in a calendar or some type of organizer. And, use just one. Well, ok, I kind of cheat because I use two calendars in my organizer. I have a daily calendar in my organizer where my to-do list, appointments, business mileage, etc. go on and this calendar gets moved into the planner towards the end of the previous month and gets filed away once the month is past. So, what I use for long-term appointments is a year’s worth of monthly calendars on two pages so when I turn to October the entire month is laid on for me to check. At the beginning of every month, I check that calendar and write all the pertinent info on the specific pages of that month’s daily calendar. I like the dated 2-page daily calendar – one page for appointments and the other for a to-do list, and mis’c. “stuff” I need to know on that date. Everyone has there own system – experiment until you find yours. I’m leery of putting it all on the computer – not sure why, but I just haven’t gone there yet. It might work wonderfully for you. The palm pilot to me is not perfect yet – something about just writing it down works for me. Copy the large monthly calendar for you husband so he’ll be able to track your appointments and not book something in conflict. If you do this, you’ll need to update that calendar once the month has begun.
Say it Aloud
Repeat the directions, tell the person you’ve just been introduced to, “Sally, it’s great you’ve joined us at Mitch’s secretary.” Say the steps in a recipe out loud to help remember how to make a new dish.
Write it down
In your calendar, on your to-do list or in your Rolodex. For two reasons, one it just helps you to remember when you write something down; 2 – to find it when you need it again.
Now, if I can just remember to not to call Morgan, the dog, Smokey and not to call Smokey, the cat, Morgan. And, I think Smokey might also appreciate it if I would call him a “him” instead of a “her.” Well, you can’t win ’em all.