“Memory Matters” for ALL Ages LINK TO PROGRAM
How often do you use the word senior moment or brain freeze? In the last few years the complaints about forgetfulness seem to be spreading to those in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. The examples are similar and occasionally someone will share a solution. Others say that their memory is not what it used to be but too often the examples continue when strategies could be helpful.
What is happening and why? Certainly there are changes in memory with normal aging but similar complaints are often noted with younger people, usually when they are stressed, tired or on overload.
Something to think about:
1. With normal aging older adults report increased word finding difficulties. The word is on the tip of their tongue and it does not come to mind until later.
2. Another change with aging is that a person is slower to process information and learn new information. Quick complicated information given once can be a challenge. Changing the method of presentation and repetitive practice can be helpful when something is introduced that is unfamiliar. It does not mean that you cannot learn but that it may take a bit longer and tips like having written details that are not complex can make a lot of difference.
3. Also older adults do not like to multitask. There is a preference to do one thing at a time which can be a challenge for older adults when they are interacting with the multitasking younger generations.
As a speech-language pathologist, I frequently work with older adults who do not have significant memory issues. These are often caregivers and explaining to them the changes with normal aging and what happens under stress and overload plus less than ideal daily habits is helpful since many fear they have dementia. Often they can benefit from strategies to handle the multitude of tasks they are doing, frequently with many interruptions.
Tips to consider:
1. Stop using negative comments about your memory. It is important to be aware but why not take it to the next level and try and understand the reason you forgot and what you can do about it. There are strategies and if you are unable to find something that works for you, perhaps you need to seek out a professional such as a speech-language pathologist who can assess your capabilities and make recommendations of strategies appropriate to your circumstances and capabilities.
2. Get a complete physical. There are over 100 reversible causes of memory loss and in some cases addressing the underlying problems can result in improved memory.
3. Look at your habits. If you are not sleeping well, eating a well-balanced diet including a healthy breakfast, and getting regular exercise, your memory might not be at its best. Good lifestyle choices support your ability to focus and pay attention, which are keys to your memory fitness.
This week think about this quote from Nathanial Branden and become more aware of the words you use after a moment of forgetfulness. Ponder on the possible cause. Were you distracted, stressed, tired, on overload or just not listening or paying attention? Do you want to keep repeating negative comments or is it time to look for a strategy? “The first step toward change is awareness.”