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.
The exam season has arrived. And so has Exam Anxiety and Phobia.
Students can be seen immersed in their books and notes.
Excitement is in the air and so is anxiety.
While the former is a good thing to see, the latter raises concerns in the minds of parents and teachers. However, the fact is that anxiety before exams is a normal thing.
The pressure to perform will make students experience nervousness. Indeed, this is alright, but only if it is up to a limit. If it reaches an unhealthy level, it needs to be managed.
If a student experiences the following symptoms before exams, then the anxiety is unhealthy. And it is time for a session with a psychiatrist.
Difficulty in breathing
These symptoms are an indication of the student being in the grip of panic and fear.
Nevertheless, it can be managed and controlled with the following tips.
Make a study plan for preparation:
In some cases, students get anxious because they are not ready with the preparation. However, just days before the exam, they feel at a loss. They become anxious as to how they will answer the questions in the exam. To avoid this, students should make a plan for preparation. Indeed, devoting adequate time to each topic so that the entire syllabus is covered and their preparation is complete.
Meditate and try breathing techniques:
Meditation is a great relaxation technique that soothes the mind and body. Also, taking deep breaths (inhaling and exhaling). For example, 15 to 20 minutes can go a long way in controlling the symptoms of anxiety. In addition, meditation gives you confidence, removes negative thoughts, and improves your concentration and memory.
Getting involved in physical activity before an exam seems like a waste of time to many. However, it is necessary to avoid tension and stay healthy. So, if sports cannot be indulged in, one should do exercises such as stretching and aerobics. Indeed, they relax the tensed muscles and keep fatigued at bay.
Eat green vegetables and light food:
Eating healthy is also important during exam preparation. If one skips meals or takes recourse to fast foods, it makes anxiety worse. In fact, junk food makes one drowsy. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables are light and easy to digest. They also provide complete nutrition and ensure the sustained release of energy during the study sessions.
Many students compromise on sleep. They think that it would help in studies. However, lack of sleep leads to poor focus and concentration, which further affects the studies. It also makes one irritable and drowsy. So, one should make sure that one is getting 6 hours of sleep every day.
Exams and Concentration difficulties are all too common. ADHD, CDD, short-term memory loss, forgetfulness, insomnia, and many more terminologies we would have come across very often.
They all seem to have evolved from a common origin, and that is concentration issues. Have you pondered on these questions!! Why can’t it be easy to concentrate? Why can’t it be easy to remember everything? If yes, then read on to know more.
Concentrate! Focus! Pay attention! These are not just words but one huge and complicated process in itself. Many children and adults often develop this issue wherein they find it extremely difficult to concentrate.
Science behind exams and concentration difficulties:
When an individual performs a single task, for example, reading a book, the image of what he sees hits the retina. The nerve fibers carry the image to the brain from the retina, which stimulates the brain cells to fire an action potential. The signal from here moves to the thalamus and proceeds to the visual cortex. This signal activates locus coeruleus, which is a brain stimulant. It targets the particular area of the brain, becoming the deciding factor as to how one responds to a stimulus, which is an image. When there is deregulation of the locus coeruleus, it is then that a person develops disorders like
ADHD, anxiety, depression, insomnia and others.
Factors influencing concentration:
Concentration is a skill that requires you to prioritize your senses while doing any work. It is an ability to block out distractions.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and concentration deficit disorder (CDD) are the two predominant concentration issues. The first one is more common among the children while the latter is observed in mostly the adults. Any individual with ADHD or CDD can show abnormalities in their behavior and social life.
Individuals with ADHD tend to forget and face problems sticking to one task and may even display excessive fidgeting. CDD individuals tend to be lethargic, move slowly, and have trouble staying alert. Adults may become socially withdrawn and exhibit slow information processing.
Solutions for concentration issues:
Moreover, concentration issues require a lot of time to be overcome. You can try to figure out what causes the distractions and avoid them as much as possible by refocusing your mind only on what you are doing. Also, you can give yourself timers that comprise “distraction time” and “focus time.” This strategy helps if one’s mind is actively processing other things.
You may also create subtasks by listing the things you need to do and then ruling out one by one once you accomplish them.
Always breathe better and try for long inhalation and exhalation. This helps to bring down your anxiety levels which hinder concentration.
However, although the above-mentioned strategies help you improve your concentration, they are not the ultimate cure for any issues.
Thus, every individual is unique, and sometimes accepting oneself can solve many complications as it reduces the need for unnecessary thinking. Finally, always bear positive thoughts in your mind as they will act as a driving source.
Inattention means a person wanders off task, lacks persistence, has difficulty sustaining focus, and is disorganized, and these problems are not due to defiance or lack of comprehension.
Hyperactivity means a person seems to move about constantly, including in situations in which it is not appropriate or excessively fidgets, taps, or talks. In adults, it may be extreme restlessness or wearing others out with constant activity.
Impulsivity means a person makes hasty actions that occur at the moment without first thinking about them and that may have a high potential for harm, or a desire for immediate rewards, or an inability to delay gratification. An impulsive person may be socially intrusive and excessively interrupt others or make important decisions without considering the long-term consequences.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
Inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity are the key behaviors of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. There are many types of ADHD. Some people with ADHD only have problems with one of the behaviors, while others have inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Most children have the combined type of ADHD.
In preschool, the most common Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptom is hyperactivity.
It is normal to have some inattention, unfocused motor activity, and impulsivity, but for people with ADHD, these behaviors:
are more severe
occur more often
interfere with or reduce the quality of how they function socially, at school, or in a job
Inattention in ADHD
People with symptoms of inattention may often:
Overlook or miss details, make careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities
Have problems sustaining attention in tasks or play, including conversations, lectures, or lengthy reading
Not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
Not follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace or start tasks but quickly lose focus and get easily side-tracked
Have problems organizing tasks and activities, such as what to do in sequence, keeping materials and belongings in order, having messy work and poor time management, and failing to meet deadlines
Avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or homework, or for teens and older adults, preparing reports, completing forms, or reviewing lengthy papers.
Lose things necessary for tasks or activities, such as school supplies, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and cell phones
Be easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli
Be forgetful in daily activities, such as chores, errands, returning calls, and keeping appointments
Hyperactivity-Impulsivity in ADHD
People with symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity may often:
Fidget and squirm in their seats
Leave their seats in situations when staying seated is expected, such as in the classroom or the office.
Run or dash around or climb in situations where it is inappropriate or, in teens and adults, often feel restless
Be unable to play or engage in hobbies quietly.
Be constantly in motion or “on the go,” or act as if “driven by a motor.”
Blurt out an answer before a question has been completed, finish other people’s sentences, or speak without waiting for a turn in the conversation
Have trouble waiting for his or her turn
Interrupt or intrude on others, for example, in conversations, games, or activities
Diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:
This requires a comprehensive evaluation by a licensed clinician, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or child psychiatrist with expertise in ADHD. For a person to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity must be chronic or long-lasting, impair the person’s functioning, and cause the person to fall behind normal development for his or her age. The doctor will also ensure that any ADHD symptoms are not due to another medical or psychiatric condition. Most children with ADHD receive a diagnosis during the elementary school years. For an adolescent or adult to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms need to have been present before age 12.
Difficulties for Parents:
ADHD symptoms can appear as early as between the ages of 3 and 6 and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms of ADHD can be mistaken for emotional or disciplinary problems or missed entirely in quiet, well-behaved children, leading to a delay in diagnosis. Adults with undiagnosed ADHD may have a history of poor academic performance, problems at work, or difficult or failed relationships.
ADHD symptoms can change over time as the personages. In young children with ADHD, hyperactivity-impulsivity is the most predominant symptom. As a child reaches elementary school, inattention symptoms may become more prominent and cause the child to struggle academically. In adolescence, hyperactivity seems to lessen and may show more often as feelings of restlessness or fidgeting, but inattention and impulsivity may remain. Many adolescents with ADHD also struggle with relationships and antisocial behaviors. Inattention, restlessness, and impulsivity tend to persist into adulthood.
Risk Factors for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:
Scientists are not sure what causes Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Like many other illnesses, several factors can contribute to ADHD, such as:
Use of habit-forming substances or beverages during pregnancy
Exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy
Exposure to environmental toxins, such as high levels of lead, at a young age
Low birth weight
ADHD is more common in males than females, and females with ADHD are more likely to have problems primarily with inattention. Other conditions, such as learning disabilities, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, depression, and substance abuse, are common in ADHD.
Treatment and Therapies
While there is no cure for ADHD, currently available treatments can help reduce symptoms and improve functioning. Treatments include medication, psychotherapy, education or training, or a combination of treatments.
ADHD medications reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity for many people and improve their ability to focus, work, and learn. The medication also may improve physical coordination. Sometimes psychiatrists or developmental pediatricians must try several different medications or dosages before finding the right one that works for a particular person. Anyone taking medications must be monitored closely and carefully by their prescribing doctor.
The most common type of medication used for treating ADHD is called a “stimulant.” Although it may seem unusual to treat ADHD with a medication that is considered a stimulant, it works because it increases the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which play essential roles in thinking and attention.
Under medical supervision, stimulant medications are considered safe. However, there are risks and side effects, especially when misused or taken more than the prescribed dose. For example, stimulants can raise blood pressure and heart rate and increase anxiety. Therefore, a person with other health problems, including high blood pressure, seizures, heart disease, glaucoma, liver or kidney disease, or an anxiety disorder, should tell their doctor before taking a stimulant.
Talk with a doctor if you see any of these side effects while taking stimulants: decreased appetite, sleep problems, tics (sudden, repetitive movements or sounds); personality changes, increased anxiety and irritability, stomach-aches headaches
A few other ADHD medications are non-stimulants. These medications take longer to start working than stimulants and improve focus, attention, and impulsivity in a person with ADHD. Doctors may prescribe a non-stimulant:
when a person has bothersome side effects from stimulants;
when a stimulant was not effective;
or in combination with a stimulant to increase effectiveness.
Although not approved specifically for treating ADHD, some antidepressants are sometimes used alone or combined with a stimulant to treat ADHD.
Antidepressants may help all of the symptoms of ADHD and can be prescribed if a patient has bothersome side effects from stimulants.
Antidepressants can be helpful in combination with stimulants if a patient also has another condition, such as an anxiety disorder, depression, or another mood disorder.
Doctors and patients can work together to find the best medication, dose, or medication combination.
Adding psychotherapy to treat ADHD can help patients and their families to better cope with everyday problems.
Behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that aims to help a person change his or her behavior. It might involve practical assistance, such as help organizing tasks or completing schoolwork, or working through emotionally difficult events.
Behavioural therapy also teaches a person how to monitor his or her own behaviour give oneself praise or rewards for acting in a desired way, such as controlling anger or thinking before acting
Parents, teachers, and family members also can give positive or negative feedback for certain behaviors and help establish clear rules, chore lists, and other structured routines to help a person control his or her behavior.
Therapists may also teach children social skills, such as waiting their turn, sharing toys, asking for help, or responding to teasing. Learning to read facial expressions and the tone of voice in others and how to respond appropriately can also be part of social skills training.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can also teach a person mindfulness techniques or meditation. So, a person learns how to be aware and accept one’s own thoughts and feelings to improve focus and concentration. The therapist also encourages the person with ADHD to adjust to the life changes that come with treatment, such as thinking before acting or resisting the urge to take unnecessary risks.
Family and marital therapy can help family members and spouses find better ways to handle disruptive behaviors, encourage behavior changes, and improve interactions with the patient.
Education and Training
Firstly, children and adults with ADHD need guidance and understanding from their parents, families, and teachers to reach their full potential and succeed. So, frustration, blame, and anger may have built up within a family before a child is diagnosed. However, parents and children may need special help to overcome negative feelings. Thus, mental health professionals can educate parents about ADHD and how it affects a family. In addition, they also will help the child and his or her parents develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other.
Secondly, parenting skills training (behavioral parent management training) teaches parents the skills they need to encourage and reward positive behaviors in their children. Thus, it helps parents learn how to use a system of rewards and consequences to change a child’s behavior. So, parents are taught to give immediate and positive feedback for behaviors they want to encourage and ignore or redirect behaviors they want to discourage. Finally, they may also learn to structure situations in ways that support desired behavior.
In addition, stress management techniques can benefit parents of children with ADHD by increasing their ability to deal with frustration to respond calmly to their child’s behavior.
Support groups can help parents and families connect with others who have similar problems and concerns. Groups often meet regularly to share frustrations and successes, exchange information about recommended specialists and strategies, and talk with experts.
Tips to Help Kids and Adults with ADHD Stay Organized
Parents and teachers can help kids with ADHD stay organized and follow directions with tools such as:
Firstly, keeping a routine and a schedule. Keep the same routine every day, from wake-up time to bedtime.
In addition, include times for homework, outdoor play, and indoor activities. Also, keep the schedule on the refrigerator or a bulletin board in the kitchen.
Then, write changes on the schedule as far in advance as possible.
Organizing everyday items. As such, have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. This includes clothing, backpacks, and toys.
Accordingly, using homework and notebook organizers. Therefore, use organizers for school material and supplies. So, emphasize to your child the importance of writing down assignments and bringing home the necessary books.
Also, being clear and consistent. Children with ADHD need consistent rules they can understand and follow.
In addition, praising and rewarding children is helpful. Children with ADHD often receive and expect criticism. Look for good behavior, and praise it.
Indeed, a professional counselor or therapist can help an adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder learn how to organize his or her life with tools such as:
Making lists for different tasks and activities
Using a calendar for scheduling events
Using reminder notes
Assigning a special place for keys, bills, and paperwork
Breaking down large tasks into more manageable, smaller steps to complete each part of the task provides a sense of accomplishment.