How to Improve Your ..... "Whatcha Call It?"

The Canadian Academy of Senior Advisors
Many older people worry about becoming forgetful. In the past, memory loss and confusion were considered part of aging. But now scientists know most people remain alert and able as they age; however, it may take a little longer to remember things -- normal memory lapses.

Memory lapses have multiple causes, and are often curable. Feeling sad, lonely, worried or bored -- or life-changes such as retirement or loss of a spouse -- can leave some people feeling confused or forgetful. Prescription or over-the-counter medications can also affect memory, as can poor nutrition, lack of exercise and sleep deprivation.

People concerned about memory problems should see their doctor, who can assess memory loss appropriately. If dementia is not present, or the causes are reversible, then you may simply need to use your memory more efficiently. Two effective techniques for remembering are association and visualization.

Association means connecting a new piece of information to one already in your memory. For example, if you want to remember your dentist appointment is at 2 p.m., think of the office location. You know that it is on the Second Floor. Floor 2, 2 p.m.-- association.

What if you can’t think of an association? Use visualization. Visualization means forming pictures in your mind; it is a tried-and-true method for remembering. Let’s say you’re planting a garden and want to remember that tomatoes and carrots grow well near each other. Create a mental picture of Bugs Bunny with a carrot in one hand and a tomato in the other.

One memory challenge for people of all ages is meeting new people and remembering their names. Several methods can help us to remember names. When you hear a person’s name for the first time, use it right away to address them. Then:

If it is ‘unusual’, ask about it. Is it a family name? How is it spelled? Discussing the name more will help you remember it.

If it is a common name, like Bill or Mary, visualize the name floating in the air above the person’s head. Or, think up a silly rhyme that ties the name to their appearance or job, like Bill counts pills (he’s a pharmacist).

Share your intent to practice memorizing names and make a game of it with others.

If you practice memory techniques, you will find those that work best for you. Be confident, keep trying. You’ll improve your memory so much you’ll surprise yourself!