Memory Loss Help

Jul 10, 2012 by

Memory Loss HelpAs we get older, most of us will start encountering some problems with memory and recall, whether it’s forgetting where we’ve put a familiar item, having trouble remembering people’s names, or encountering that maddening tip of the tongue syndrome. For people concerned about memory loss help is out there in the form of mnemonics, healthy living habits, and even herbal supplements that can help improve your memory. While in some cases you may need to consult a physician to get help with memory loss, in general you can improve your memory by incorporating a few simple memory-boosting practices into your everyday life.

The first step in getting memory loss help is to recognize whether you’re experiencing an actual loss of memories or simply a delay in your recall. Many mental functions such as learning and recall tend to slow down slightly as we age while otherwise working fine: while it may take you longer to retrieve a memory, the information itself is still there. It’s easy to assume that if the information you’re trying to remember— like the title of the movie you saw last week, an acquaintance’s name, etc.— doesn’t spring to mind instantly, then it must be gone forever. Luckily, much of the time this is actually just a delay in the remembering process, and if you keep at it you’ll recall the information. Mnemonic devices actually work on this principle, by helping to jog your brain into remembering what it already knows.

So, how do you separate normal memory loss associated with aging from the more serious kind? In general, during healthy aging you should retain memories and skills that are deeply ingrained into your life, such as the ability to do hobbies and tasks you’ve done for a long time without a loss in ability or enjoyment; the wisdom and knowledge gained from life experience (also known as autobiographical memory); innate common sense; and the ability to form reasoned arguments and judgments.

In normal memory loss, you might start to forget things like where you put familiar objects like glasses and car keys. You may occasionally forget appointments and tasks, have trouble with the names of acquaintances, and mix up the names of family members (such as calling your grandson by your son’s name). Other normal occurrences include forgetting what you just read or said in conversation; being unable to recall why you came into a room, or otherwise becoming more easily distracted; and not being able to quite remember a word or name you know you’ve memorized, a frustrating phenomenon called “tip of the tongue” syndrome.

Memory loss can be a sign of a degenerative condition such as Alzheimer’s or primary dementia when it is debilitating: when it interferes with your ability to perform job duties, participate in hobbies or activities you once enjoyed, and maintain a social life and family relationships. If you have severe memory loss that is affecting your ability to work and enjoy life, it’s time to consult a physician to get help for your memory loss. A professional diagnosis can shed some light on the potential causes of severe memory loss and offer appropriate routes to treatment. Besides the above conditions, impaired memory can be caused by poor diet, sleep or exercise patterns; vascular conditions that impair blood circulation; depression; certain medications, especially those taken for blood pressure; and in women, hormonal changes resulting from giving birth or entering menopause.

If you’re just experiencing the regular hiccups in memory that afflict us all, there are a few specific strategies you can employ to help combat memory loss:

Write things down: it may be a point of pride to remember appointments and to-do’s all in your head, but let’s face it— paper never forgets! If you record things you need to remember on paper or an electronic device, it will always be there when you need it. Record items in a logical place where you can easily retrieve them: phone numbers in your address book, appointments in a planner or calendar, etc. You could even have a dedicated notebook to write down lists such as grocery items and to-do’s for the day. You can even make a list of the steps in a complex task to make it easier to execute.

Remember where you put things: place frequently used items like glasses and keys in the same spot whenever possible, so that you memorize that locale. If you must put an item in a new spot temporarily, look at that spot and speak it aloud, or even write it down if you want. This recitation will help fix the new spot in your memory.

Time and place: use electronic calendars and organizers to help you stay on top of events and appointments, and try setting an alarm clock for things you need to do in the immediate future, like leaving to make it to an important event. When traveling, take a map with you as a backup to help you navigate. You can even enlist friends and family to remind you of things you need to do, if they’re willing!

Learning new information: listen with your full attention when talking to someone, and repeat the information back to him or her to make sure you’ve understood him or her correctly. If you can, talk in a quiet place to minimize background noise and other distractions; having to listen to someone over the background chatter of a party or other busy venue can seriously cut down on your comprehension due to noise interference, even if your hearing is otherwise good.

Finally, making sure to practice healthy living in the form of regular exercise, adequate sleep, a balanced diet, and memory supplementation also can radically help memory loss and recall. Herbal supplements in particular, such as Ginkgo biloba, brahmi, and the extremely promising celastrus seed, have shown to be excellent herbal helpers for memory loss and overall cognitive ability. By making time to incorporate the above activities into a healthy lifestyle, with luck you will find that your memory has noticeably improved.

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