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Thu, Dec. 05

Memory tips to age-proof your brain



Many people may ask themselves, 'should I be worried?'

For example, have you ever entered a room and can't remember why you are there? Did you pay the electric bill?

Can you remember if you locked the front door this morning?

Lorrie Nebrig with the Yavapai Regional Medical Center spoke in front of a packed meeting room at the Prescott Valley Public Library earlier this month and provided useful tips for improving memory.

"You can forget a lot of things and be okay, little blips of memory loss are common...some things are not okay such as matters concerning money and medication," she said.

Nebrig advised that if you are really having some concerns, consider getting a co-pilot, someone to watch over your shoulder and help you out when necessary.

She explained that our memories are not challenged as much anymore since the advent of technology, mainly because cell phones now contain calendars, apps and phone lists rendering our immediate need to remember dates and numbers obsolete.

In addition, many individuals simply do too much at one time, or multi-task to the point of exhaustion.

"Without attention and without being organized, you are going to miss things," she said.

Language is a subset of memory. Understanding how you learn and how you remember things is helpful, she told the audience.

"If we start to lose a little bit of acuity with our thought process, what's going to go first is the immediate and the short-term memory," she said.

Long term memory is the last to go.

Nebrig often works with patients exhibiting early onset dementia and explained that when someone experiences memory problems frequently, they may become irritagle, agitated and even feel some degree of paranoia.

"We all have some degree of losing flexibility of thought," she said, and offered the following tips:

• Write things down and make lists

• No pen, paper or note app? Try and make a mental picture of what you need to remember in your head.

• Recite those little grocery items in your head and sequence them as letters, for example: "Cheese, milk, cereal...C.M.C."

• Associate something funny or unusual with the item. Something humorous or a little weird is easier to remember.

• Create a "command center" in your home and keep the calendar, notepad, cell phones, telephone and phone book in that location. This way, it's much easier to simply "grab and go" in addition to knowing where to locate those items.

• Make a habit every morning to spend five minutes at your "command center" to review notes and appointments for the day and the week.

• Be organized.

• Always be aware of what is around you, to include objects and people.

"Attention plays a huge role in memory," Nebrig explained. Also, how people learn contributes to how we remember. For example, some people learn better with visuals while others retain information by listening.

"Do something mentally active every day, even if it's just having a conversation with someone. Especially if you live alone," Nebrig said.

To help with short term memory, play games.

"Card games. Bridge. Poker and Blackjack; you don't have to gamble. Mental math really helps," she said.

Board games, brain game books and online sites that offer activities to stimulate memory help a lot, Nebrig explained.

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