Like many people, as you grow older one of your concerns
may be about forgetfulness. You may not recall where you put things and there’s
that nagging worry that your mental capacity may not be what it was when you
We all experience age-related changes and forgetfulness,
like misplacing our car keys from time to time, but some people find these
changes interrupt their daily life.
Across many households in America, many items on to-do
lists and grocery lists are forgotten. Sometimes people have to go back to the
grocery store more than once to get all the items on a list.
It’s frustrating to be at the store and have a feeling
that you’re forgetting something. You wrote down what you need here but now you
can’t find the list or remember what’s on it.
Stop Fuzzy Thinking – AKA “CRS – Can’t Remember
If you’d like to change this pattern of forgetfulness,
don’t just sit back and continually feel frustrated. You can stop “CRS – can’t
remember stuff.” Resolve to have a healthier brain in 2013 and make your life
simpler in the process.
Say goodbye to the frustrations of arriving home without
all your shopping list items. Say goodbye to the equally frustrating experience
of finding your shopping list in a coat pocket long after you need it.
Some activities, like playing the piano, can decidedly
improve the more a person practices. The same is true of your brainpower. Many
people sharpen their memory skills with crossword puzzles and board games or by
taking classes, socializing with friends, and traveling to new places that may
involve learning language skills.
Others train their brain to better remember lists of
items with and without the list in front of them. These are some ways you, too,
can improve your retention skills.
Four Tips For
• Learn the
way you learn. Improve your memory by using this strategy to your advantage. If
you are a visual learner, then make sure you can utilize the retention strategy
that best suits you.
Organized: Take notes. Use both words and pictures to ramp up your memory. Take
advantage of calendars, date books and other organizational tools to help you
concentrate while learning.
the dots: Linking one thing to another is a powerful tool for learning new
information. Relate information to what you already know and then build on that
previous knowledge for good retention.
• Experience the sights, sounds,
and smells of learning: Engage as many senses as possible while learning.
Utilize textures, colors and taste. The more you stimulate the senses while
learning the more likely you will create pathways to a better memory.
Tips For Remembering What You Want, When You
A small grocery list is a good place to start honing
your memorization skills. It doesn’t matter what you want to remember or
whether it is ten items on your grocery list, thirty words of a speech or a
four-part recipe. Your mind is ready and able to remember more than we often
Like an athlete, you’ll need to train your mind to
remember more and more items. Start small and exercise your mind to meet your
• Try the
link method. The idea is to link a word to something else that is similar. This
helps the brain make associations from one object to another.
linking unrelated items. If you are
trying to memorize a list of items from the lumber yard, for example, you may
want to remember the items by associating them with something completely
unrelated such as fruit. The 2 x4’s you need on the list are pictured as
‘apples’ (you need three); the nails become ‘mangoes’ and so on.
• Break up
usual patterns. Powerful bonds are created when you use your memory to retain
unrelated items or topics. What you’re doing is breaking the patterns your mind
uses to file memories away.
• Take “virtual photos” of what
you want to remember. Visualize what you want to remember as if it were a
photo. It will help you more easily retrieve these items when you want to bring
it out and “look at it.”
Mark Underwood is
a neuroscience researcher, president and co-founder of Quincy Bioscience, a
biotech company located in Madison, Wisconsin focused on the discovery,
development, and commercialization of novel technologies to support cognitive
function and other age-related health challenges such as memory. He is also a
contributor to the “Brain Health Guide” which highlights the research at Quincy
Bioscience and offers practical tips to help keep healthy brain function in
aging. More information can be found at www.quincybioscience.com.
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