Memory is a very intriguing part of daily living. It is vital. However, memorizing something can turn out to be difficult. On the other hand, memory can also decline with aging. This is known as Dementia. Nevertheless, there are simple tricks to improve memory as memorizing can be difficult. Using these memory-enhancing techniques can help improve your ability to learn new information and retain the information over time.
1. Repeat to Retain
One of the golden rules of learning and memory is a repeat, repeat, repeat. The brain also responds to novelty, so repeating something differently or at a different time will make the most of the novelty effect and allow you to build stronger memories and learn to retain new information. Examples of using repetition include:
Repeating a name after you hear it for the first time
Repeating or paraphrasing what someone says to you
2. Organize New Information
A day planner or smart phone calendar can help you keep track of appointments and activities and serve as a journal to write anything you would like to remember. Writing down and organizing information reinforces learning. Also, try jotting down conversations, thoughts, experiences. Review current and previous day’s entries at breakfast and dinner. If you use a planner and not a smartphone, keep it in the same spot at home and take it with you whenever you leave.
3. Visualize to Retain Information
Learning faces and names is a tough task for most people. In addition to repeating a person’s name, you can also associate the name with an image to learn and retain new information. Visualization strengthens the association you are making between the face and the name. For example: Link the name Sandy with the image of a beach, and imagine sandy on the beach.
4. Use Cues to Learn New
When you have difficulty recalling a particular word or fact, you can cue yourself by giving related details or ‘talking around’ the word, name, or fact. Other practical ways to cue include: Using alarms or a kitchen timer to remind you of tasks or appointments. Placing an object associated with the task you must do in a prominent place at home. For example, if you want to order tickets to a play, leave a newspaper ad for the play near your telephone or computer.
5. Group Items to Retain Information
When you’re trying to remember a long list of items, it can help to group the items in sets of three to five, just as you would remember a phone number. This strategy capitalizes on organization and building associations. In addition, it helps to extend the capacity of our short-term memory by chunking information together instead of trying to remember each piece of information independently. For example: If you have a list of 15 things on your grocery list, you can group the items by category, such as dairy, produce, canned goods, and frozen foods.
These are some simple tricks to improve memory.
Dementia can knock on the doorstep of even the middle-aged. And it can certainly be a difficult task to put something into memory at that age.
With age, most body organs begin to deteriorate in their function. Therefore, memory loss with age is not uncommon. Nonetheless, this happens to the brain too. Thereby, it reduces the overall speed of functioning of most organs. While slowing of bodily movement is visible, the internal organs functioning also slows down. However, this is not that obvious.
Memory loss or dementia is one of the main manifestations of this degeneration of the brain.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. The associated symptoms includes reduced reasoning abilities and cognitive defects. Although, it is seen only in the elderly, not all elderly people will have Alzheimer’s. Consequently, the overall quality of life of the affected person is reduced. Thus, there is difficulty with remembering things that were recently learned. It is a progressive disease and as it gets more severe, a full-time caretaker may be required.
In fact, the brain cells are affected by protein masses known as plaques and tangles. Thus, these hamper the way communication between the brain cells happens. Consequently, these also affect nutrition from reaching all parts of the brain. However, this leads to shrinking of the brain, eventually leading to memory loss and other problems. In addition, there is also a strong genetic linkage, as most people with Alzheimer’s have the lipoprotein A gene.
Though memory loss with age is the most common symptom, there are other symptoms:
Being confused about places, people, and times
Inability to find the right words during conversations
Regular objects are misplaced
Becoming irritable, (in someone who was not so previously)
Inability to organize thoughts
Not able to make the right decisions
Repetitive talks and actions
Forgetfulness (not something the person always does)
Difficulty with numbers (again, not something calculations
Difficulty managing everyday tasks and minor problems
Suspicion of others (like immediate family members and friends)
While age is definitely a risk factor, the fact that not all aged people develop Alzheimer’s is to be borne in mind. Nevertheless, other risk factors include the history of stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity, and poor lifestyle choices.
Whereas, there is no definitive way to diagnose Alzheimer’s, symptoms can indicate disease. In addition, brain scans and neuropsychological function testing are useful ways to confirm the diagnosis.
Hence, treatment is aimed at two things reducing the rate of disease progression and treat (or reverse) symptoms if possible.