Making it possible for good memories in 2013

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James M. Berklan, Editor
James M. Berklan, Editor

I'm fascinated with long-term care topics that at first blush seem to be speaking about residents, but upon closer reflection they could be even more interesting personally to long-term care professionals.

These items typically have something to do with nutrition, smoking, preventing sickness and so forth.

And now also the area of enhancing memory. Ashford University's Alice Vestergaard, Ed.D., recently posed some interesting questions: Are we ever frustrated we can't recall names of people yet recognize their faces? Forget where we put our glasses, or wallet and keys? Blank out on what to say in the middle of a conversation?

If so, you have company — lots of it, she says. That's because some memory loss is natural. “Senior moments” may occur more often but this is not necessarily a sign of decline or the onset of Alzheimer's, she emphasizes.

Actually, certain memory changes are only temporary, or reversible. In fact, she says that memory can get better with age. Once you get potential trouble factors out of your life such as sleep deprivation, stress, infections, depression and dehydration (among others), you can get on to improving your memory.

This isn't just about the “other guy.” This is good for all of us.

“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,” Vestergaard explains. “The more people challenge and exercise the brain, the less likely they will be to develop brain damaging disease later in life.”

With that in mind, she has created “10 Tips for a Better Memory.” You can try to introduce them to your residents. But if you did just that, you'd be selling yourself short.

My favorites among the tips include a) slowing down and focusing more on what you want to remember, b) laugh more and c) use visualization techniques.

Help yourself regain footing on this slippery slope called aging that we all face. To see all of the tips, simply go to www.mcknights.com and type in “Vestergaard” in the “Search McKnight's” box at the top right.

And always keep in mind one of Vestergaard's other key points: “Lighten up; everyone forgets from time to time. Accept that you cannot remember everything in this highly complex and fast-paced world.” Now that's worth remembering.


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