health

What Was It I Wanted Tell You Again?

memorychipThere was a joke I wanted to tell you. It had something to do with drug side effects. Headache, flushing, heat sensation, loss of memory, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, constipation, did I mention loss of memory?

Have you noticed how often you forget what you wanted to tell someone while you were listening to them talk to you? Have you walked to another room to get something, only to realize once you get there, you can’t remember why you came? Do you get stumped trying to remember the actor’s name or the character’s name in your favorite TV shows? Well, join the club, because all of us are having a tough time remembering things that used to come to us easily. Maybe it’s all the cumulative (and useless) trivia that our brains have amassed, or maybe it’s brain cell drop-off, but fingerstringyou are definitely not alone.

We’ve got 70 million baby boomers all trying to remember what they forgot at the same time. There is no punchline to the joke because everyone of those boomers is worried about dementia and Alzheimer’s. Watching what happens or happened to our parents has probably made us even more sensitive to the problems ahead.

Research into Alzheimer’s prevention has accelerated and there is some promise, but in the meantime, we are told that the best defense is to go on the mental exercise offense. Apparently, people who perform simple mental exercises can slow the rate of mental decline. No one is saying this will prevent dementia, but the theory is that this type of mental activity can possibly delay the onset of dementia symptoms.

There are a number of simple ways to measure your memory, from memorizing number sequences (forwards and backwards), reciting months in reverse order, watching someone carkeys“hide” 5 objects and then locating them, etc. These kinds of simple tests can tell you a little about the shape your memory is in now, but if you’re looking for exercises to keep your mind sharp -- they’re all around you. You can try harder crossword puzzles, learn a new language, try to master some basic computer coding, and generally move out of your comfort zone to attempt something new. It turns out that mental exercise is a lot like physical exercise. A little bit each day goes a long way, and if you get in the habit of exercising your brain, you can stay in the habit.

Now if I can just remember where I left the car keys I might be able to get to the library, if I remember the map.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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BoomSpeak - For babyboomers - by babyboomers.