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Friday, March 30, 2007

Can You Remember? Boosting Your Capabilities

As we get older, one of our greatest fears is losing our memory. In fact, in a recent survey 69% of Americans expressed this fear as their number one concern.

We know that as we age we lose some of our cognitive functioning, but are there things we can do to preserve our memory?
• Exercise your mind (do things like crossword puzzles, Sudoko, or play games—anything that challenges your mind)
• Continue your education (people who continue to learn have proven to develop lower loss of cognitive functioning.
• Try something new (like learning to use a computer program, joining a book club, volunteering or traveling to a new destination).
How do these things help preserve our memory?
Learning creates new pathways and connections between our brain cells. The more connections or pathways you have the better it is for your memory function.

Are there any other things we can do to boost our memory?
• Try visualization. If you are trying to remember where you parked then try to visualize the location by something that is memorable in the area (a big tree, a sign, etc)
• Use association. Using the same example of the parking place you could look for the number posted and come up with an association. If you are parked in 4 A- think of perhaps the 4 people in your family and the grades your daughter always gets in school—A’s.
• Chunk things down. Try to break down things into smaller pieces. This is helpful if you are trying to remember a license plate number or a phone number.
• Stay active. Research indicates that those who walk 2-3 times a week have better cognitive functioning than those who do not exercise.
• Eat right. Try to eat more fish, leafy greens and foods that are rich in antioxidants like fruits and vegetables)
• Stay connected to others. People who have an active social life tend to be involved in more challenging activities and notice less cognitive decline.

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