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Training Your Memory

Sensational Seniors

Surely you've heard that expression, "Use it or lose it"? Well, it appears this can truly apply to our memories.

One of the most common fears among seniors is the loss of memory and what it could mean to our health, well-being and our relationships. Statistics show 80 percent of seniors are concerned about their memory on a daily basis. If this is you, you are not alone and this concern is not something one should take lightly at any stage of life. You can take some control of your own destiny by constant self-educating and cognitively demanding environments. These are considered to be very important means of remaining mentally fit.

How? Older adults can improve their memory -- or retain their memory -- by simply challenging their minds with puzzles, reading, trivia games and a computer. Staying interested in things and learning all you can about them are important throughout our enitre lives. One could take up a hobby that requires concentration and following directions. There are many things we can do to retain our mental capabilities and some we can NOT do such as sitting in front of the television most of the day, allowing the screen to amuse/entertain you. Find ways to amuse and entertain yourself and if you are able, stay as active socially as possible.

Coffee Gives Seniors a Memory Boost

If you are over the age of 65, a cup of java can jog your memory. Studies show that memory in senior citizens is best in the morning but wanes as the day goes on. By about 4 p.m. a cup of coffee may be just the ticket to rev up your memory for the remainder of the day. This is not an official endorsement of coffee but the results of this study were irrefutable. Participants who drank decaffeinated coffee showed no improvement in memory function while those who drank the "real thing" warded off the memory impairment on a daily basis.

A study at the University of Texas in Austin, began to address this issue. It was a five-year, $2.4-million dollar study on how to help memory in the elderly. It is funded by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health and aims to determine whether memory training intervention affects performance.

Coffee in a tan cup with a spoon

The study is addressing this major concern of aging not only in the United States, but throughout the world. There are 350 volunteers participating, 65 years of age and older who live alone, suffer anxiety or depression and are concerned about their memory. Participants will attend classes in memory and in health, including sessions, alternative medicine, drug interactions, exercise and nutrition. The study will also teach memory improvement strategies. Learning will be reinforced through sessions placed to enhance what participants have learned.

It is hopeful the findings of this study will further aid physicians and health care professionals to assist their patients in all aspects of memory function. The hope is to ease the fear so many seniors face each day regarding their memory, as well as finding ways to circumvent memory loss.

Memories Are Not Lost

Forgetting is frustrating and vexing, but our memories are lodged in our brain; they are not lost and will not get lost. We just sometimes have difficulty gaining access to the memories. Our brain is organized to store information in small pieces. Remembering someone's name when we meet her or him on the street requires us to retrieve first our visual memory of the person and then, separately, our memory of the name. The process can be interrupted by, among other things, our anxiety to remember. Trust yourself - the information is in there and will come out. You just sometimes have to wait a bit.

By measuring the electrical rhythms that different parts of the brain use to communicate with each other, researchers at John's Hopkins University have demonstrated that our memory of a single object requires our brain to retrieve multiple bits of information. Therefore, the inability to remember something does not mean we have forgotten it; it means there is an obstacle between the different pieces of information.

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