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Don’t Forget to Remember

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By AlzheimersSupport Staff • • June 13, 2000

Summary: Expert emphasizes the importance of personal initiative in memory retention.

As we get older, we may notice that our memory isn’t what it used to be. What many don’t know is that memory retention requires a conscious effort on the part of the individual. This effort should take the form of daily steps that keep the memory up to speed. In an article appearing in Bottom Line Health, memory expert Dr. Cynthia Green reveals strategies for information retention. Below is a summary of her nine steps to sharpening the memory.

Step 1: The conscious decision to remember
A conscious decision to retain information is required to transfer the information to long-term memory. The brain functions by initially placing data in the short-term memory bank and then either transferring it to the long-term memory or terminating it. When taking in new information, repetition can be a tool in transferring this information from short-term to long-term.

Step 2: Attach significance to new information
Attach meaning to information that you want to remember. Dr. Green cites 3 methods in accomplish this. The first is “chunking,” which entails committing information to memory in chunks. We often use this method in remembering phone numbers. The second method, “mental images,” involves the association of an image with the item that you want to remember. An example of this would be associating an image of a robin with the proper name Robin. Lastly, making “connections” between the new information and an item already in long-term storage can promote memory retention.

Step 3: Put it in writing
Writing things down can help to incorporate them into the long-term memory.

Step 4: Remember your stash spots
Designate places in your home where you will always place things, whether it’s a hook where you place your car keys, or a bowl where you keep your wristwatch.

Step 5: Seek advice from your doctor regarding your medication
Talk to your doctor about any medication you are taking. Some medication may interfere with memory.

Step 6: Physical activity
Experts encourage exercise to promote blood flow to the part of the brain aimed at memory and other cognitive tasks.

Step 7: Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Too much caffeine or alcohol can hamper the ability to concentrate.

Step 8: Eat more fruits and vegetables
Vitamin C and beta-carotene have been linked to superior memory retention. Sources of these substances are found in broccoli, oranges, red peppers and strawberries.

Step 9: Take vitamins
Dr. Green recommends taking a daily multivitamin. As we get older, we are less able to absorb certain nutrients, vitamin B-12 in particular. To make up for this deficiency, look into a multivitamin composed of 100% of the RDA for vitamins B-6 and B-12 and folic acid. It is also important to get a sufficient supply of minerals zinc and boron.

Source: Bottom Line Health

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