The brain, as one of the most important body organs as well as the control center of your life and well-being, undergoes changes, resulting in memory decline. The degree of decline varies in individuals due to their differences in lifestyle and their genetic makeup. Memory loss is an impediment, but do not let it be your stumbling block in the rest of your life journey.
The human mind declines and memories start to wane after the age of 30 or so. As many people hit middle age, they often start to notice that their memory and mental clarity are not what they used to be. They suddenly cannot remember where they put their keys or eyeglasses just a moment ago, or an old acquaintance's name or even the name of an old band they used to love. As the brain fades, they euphemistically refer to these occurrences as “senior moments.” Senior moments are becoming increasingly annoying and even frustrating as you continue in your aging process.
Have you, too, experienced your senior moments?
Frailty of memory may be due to many factors, including brain damage, alcohol and nicotine use, constipation, and dehydration (common among seniors due to their reduced consumption of water for fear of incontinence), depression, and pharmaceutical drugs (especially those anesthetic agents, benzodiazepines, and among others).
The storage of information in the brain hinges on consciousness. First of all, you must be fully conscious of its importance before you will decide to store it. If you think it is really important, then you must put it away in a safe place where you can easily retrieve it later. Finally, when you want to retrieve it, you must know or remember where to look for it. It is all about consciousness.
In the scenario of not knowing where you have put your keys or eyeglasses, first and foremost, you must make an immediate deliberate mental note that you will need your keys or eyeglasses as soon as you take them off; then, be conscious of the place where you put them, for example, right next to your cell phone or in front of the TV; when you need to find them, you can readily recall the place where you put them.
Of course, another option is to put your keys or eyeglasses in an assigned place, where you can always find them, but that will not help you remember where you put them. In addition, it may not always be possible to put them in the same place all the time. The bottom line: learn to be conscious of any new information you want to retrieve later, and make a deliberate effort to remember where you store that information. You must always train your mind for better memory. Just practice this consciousness not just for your keys or eyeglasses but for all other things. With more practice, you will soon find that your memory has significantly improved, instead of having deteriorated further due to lack of use!
Managing memory-loss problems
Memory-loss problems may often interfere with your daily living throughout the rest of your life. The good news is that numerous conditions associated with memory impairment are treatable and even reversible, especially when the conditions causing the delirium are successfully addressed, such as deficiency in vitamin B12, autoimmune diseases, and depression. However, when these memory-loss conditions remain untreated for more than six months to a year, clinical experience has suggested that the prognosis for full recovery of memory function may become slim and the damage to mental health may be even permanent and irreversible.
To manage your memory-loss problems, you may try mnemonic aids (use of lists and reminders) and self-cuing. Use visual cues and mental associations to “jog” your memory.
Learn to process new information step by step, and one step at a time, to allow yourself more time to get the hang of it.
Avoid prescription drugs wherever possible. Over-the-counter drugs, such as sleeping pills, and antihistamines, such as Benadryl and Tylenol PM, contain dangerous chemicals, which may cause memory loss or decline. Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants may also have adverse side effects on the brain. Avoid them as much as possible.
Go off the beaten track to break your old habits from time to time in order to stimulate your brain cells. According to Dr. Randolph B. Schiffer, Director of the
for Brain Health,
occasionally going off the beaten track is “good for the soul.” So, every now
and then, do something out of the ordinary just to stimulate your brain. Cleveland Clinic
Engage in challenging endeavors, such as crossword puzzles, adult learning, or learning a musical instrument.
Reduce stress, which interferes with concentration and staying focused. Anxiety dampens your mental ability, especially your memory skills to recall stored information.
Learn to use the Chinese Tai Chi breathing to inhale memories and exhale worries. Tai Chi not only de-stresses you but also enhances your mental alertness, in particular, your memory power. Change the incorrect way you breathe to avoid breathing difficulties, which are common among the elderly. Learn the correct way to breathe for total relaxation.
Use meditation to relax your body and mind for better memory enhancement.
Apply the principle of "present-mindedness" to avoid absent-mindedness and to focus on the present moment. You just need to be aware of an action while it is taking place, and not after it has already taken place, because it will be too late by then. This “present awareness” can be applied to almost anything you do in your daily life. What you need is to practice consciousness and concentration.
Of course, the best and most effective way to manage your memory is to use it, instead of relying on cues or reminders.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau