Static in the Attic: Ways to Enhance Memory And Lead a Brain Wellness Lifestyle
By Dr. Alice Vestergaard, Ashford University
Do you ever walk into a room and wonder why you are there? Are you frustrated because you sometimes can't recall names of people, but you recognize faces? Do you ever forget where you put your wallet, keys and/or glasses? Do you find yourself in the middle of a conversation, and suddenly “blank” on the next word you wanted to say?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you have plenty of company. All of the above can be normal memory changes as people age. While the frequency of “senior moments” and “tip of the tongue syndrome” increases as we age, it is not necessarily a sign of decline or the signal of impending Alzheimer’s disease or other disease process.
There are certain memory changes that are temporary and reversible. Memory is actually a complex system of processes, and there are many variables that can impact any part of the memory chain. Some reversible causes of memory problems include sleep deprivation, stress, multi-tasking, infection, dehydration, vitamin deficiency, depression, colds/flu, sensitivity/reaction to medication or strong emotions.
Contrary to popular myth, and the portrayal of older people by the media, memory can actually get better as we age...but it requires training just like an athlete who trains the body on a regular basis through consistent exercise. Brain exercise should be incorporated into everyone's life on a regular basis.
The great news is that scientists now know that the brain is constantly rewiring itself, adapting and growing new brain cells even throughout the aging process. Not only can a person grow new brain cells, but the more people exercise and challenge the brain, the less likely they will be to develop brain damaging disease later in life. There are a variety of ways, techniques and methods to stimulate the brain. Begin with these tips.
1. If you want to remember, slow down and pay attention to what you want to remember. The number one cause of memory problems is lack of focus.
2. Say out loud what you want to remember. Don’t worry about people thinking you are strange for talking to yourself. Saying something out loud fires more brain cells and helps in the memory process.
3. Get 30 minutes of physical exercise at least 5 days a week. This helps promote circulation to the brain and will benefit your heart as well.
4. Eat a portion-controlled, balanced diet.
5. Control your stress; worry less, laugh more.
6. Make sure to drink sufficient amounts of water each day.
7. Get sufficient amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain is approximately 60% fat and 40% water; fuel it with the right kind of fat. The easiest way to accomplish this is to eat fish 3 times per week.
8. Lighten up; everyone forgets from time to time. Accept that you cannot remember everything in this highly complex and fast-paced world.
9. Use visualization techniques if they work for you. The more outlandish the visualization, the higher the likelihood that you will remember.
10. To remember pass codes, license plate numbers, credit card numbers, telephone numbers, and/or important dates, create a story that links the individual letters or numbers together.
About Dr. Alice Vestergaard
Alice Vestergaard, professor in the College of Health, Human Services, and Science at Ashford University, has specialized in long-term care, emerging health technology, and the study of brain-health in aging. She has more than 25 years experience in both the private and public education sectors and has lectured extensively on her fields of expertise. While at Ashford, she has served as executive dean, program manager, lead faculty, faculty trainer, and curriculum developer within diverse multi-cultural settings.
About Ashford University
Ashford University is defining the modern college experience by combining the heritage of a traditional campus with the flexibility and effectiveness of online learning. The University provides a vibrant learning community where high-quality programs and leading-edge technology create a dynamic, immersive and stimulating learning experience. Ashford University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association (www.ncahlc.org). The University offers practical and progressive associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs online, as well as bachelor’s degree programs at its Clinton, Iowa, campus. Ashford University – where heritage meets innovation. For more information, please visit www.ashford.edu or call Shari Rodriguez, associate vice president of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.