Friday, January 10, 2014

Let your Brain be Your Face Book

As we grow older, we all start to notice some changes in our ability to remember things.

You may have gone into the kitchen all to forget why you're there or had a difficult time recalling a familiar name during a conversation. You may even be on your way out, all to realize you're not sure where you put down your cell phone or keys. Memory lapses can occur at any age, though we tend to get flustered by them as we get older because we fear they’re a sign of dementia or loss of intellectual function. The fact is, significant memory loss in older people isn’t a normal part of aging, but is due to organic disorders, brain injury, or neurological illness.

Most of the fleeting "senior moments" that we experience reflect normal changes in the structure and function of the brain. These changes can slow certain cognitive processes making it harder to learn new things quickly or screen out distractions. Although these changes can be frustrating, they are benign by every meaning of the term. Thankfully, due to decades of research, there are various strategies we can use to protect and sharpen our minds. Here are three things you might try:

1. Keep Learning
A Higher level of education is associated with better mental functioning in older adults. This doesn't necessarily mean formal education. Instead of relying on technology like Facebook or cell phones, let your brain do the remembering by being intentional to remember faces and names. Let your brain be your face book. As they say, "use it or lose it". 

2. Use All Five
Use all five of your senses when you learn. The more of your brain that is involved in retaining a memory, the better. Dr. Donald Ford from University of California Irvine's Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory states, "We need to ensure that learning engages all the senses and taps the emotional side of the brain, through methods like humor, storytelling, group activities and games. Emphasis on the rational and logical alone does not produce powerful memories."

3. Believe in YOU
Myths about aging are abound. People who believe that they have memory impairment, will most likely see signs of such. As they say, "Whether you say you can or you can not, you're right". 

Resources: Ford, D. (2011). How the brain learns. Retrieve from:

1 comment:

  1. Using all of our senses is a great suggestion, Leah. When we can really feel and experience what we are learning we tie emotion and sensation into it. Then it is more engrained in our brain and much more likely to be retained. Thanks for an interesting post!