By: Patrick M. Kennedy
I know I’ve heard the old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ applied to a lot of things. And you may laugh, but I almost forgot what I was going to write about next … then I remembered. Oh yeah, I’m going to discuss all those things I, and possibly you, forget. You know, like the time I made a meticulous list of items to buy at the supermarket … then forgot to take the list. Or the time at the mall I couldn’t remember which main entrance I came in, because there are three, and I had to search for my car.
Memory is the ability of the mind, or of a person, or organism (in this case a senior citizen organism) to retain learned information and knowledge of past events and experiences and to retrieve that information and knowledge … sounds kind of easy as Webster describes it: In other words, somebody’s stash of saved knowledge and experience, or the act or an instance of remembering it.
Sometimes it is easier said than done when I try to remember a name in mid sentence. But, just to make it harder, there are three kinds of memory to deal with: immediate, short-term, and long-term, and they all have different functions.
Immediate Memory (less than 1 minute) allows me to experience the “event” at the time it’s happening. This is fleeting memory, that is, in one ear, out the other. Short-term Memory (under 30 minutes), this is better. In 30 minutes I will forget 70% of what I just learned unless I make a record of it. Long-term Memory (over 30 minutes), this is longer lasting. Every time I transfer a memory from short-term to long-term memory, there is a chemical reaction in my brain. Now that sounds awful. At that time I am creating a synapse where my new knowledge is being attached to my old knowledge. This is where we all want our memory to work … in the long-term.
It is easier to think that memory/brain is like that penny jar sitting atop the dresser. Over time it overflows and some of the pennies drop out. As time goes on it seems some of the memories, and the memory itself, overflows and some get lost. It’s just another penalty for being too smart with a lot of experience.
Here it should be said a list is an important and necessary tool, sometimes, and a good friend any senior should have around, and use, daily, or more often. By any other name; catalog, record, inventory, directory, file, memory jogger, or whatever you want to call it, it should be in your pocket or purse at all times … especially when you go to the Super Mall Market to purchase tofu; you don’t want to come back with a tattoo. You also must be sure you can read your scribbled list.
Remember that old saying, “Making a list, and checking it twice” … even Santa had a bad memory.
OK, now, how do I improve this memory function of the brain? Well there is a lot of scientific Blah-Blah that can be examined in a lab or university, but here I’ll keep it simple: Get my endorphins up so I am in the right frame of mind; not blocking the transfer. Keeping it simple again, Endorphins are chemicals, a kind of enzyme, in my brain which raises my mood, calms me, and makes me feel good.
“How do I do that,” you may ask? Sounds tough! But it is easy and simply the process of eating the right foods, such as, blueberries, brightly color fruits and vegetables, chocolate, fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring), and taking multiple vitamins and vitamin B6.
Naturally, there is the herbal way to go: Ginkgo Bilboa, to improve memory, concentration, and the ability to remain focused. This natural extract will increase blood flow and oxygen supply, antioxidants help to minimize free radicals, and can improve blood circulation and blood viscosity.
Of course, there are the hard things to do, there always are, like, getting 8-hours of sleep a night, regular exercise, imbibing in a brain drink, not a hard drink, that is tea (one bag of Lipton’s tea a day will do), and listening to classical music. Yes, this might be a health-practice stopper, but remember, music calms the savage beast, and in your case a calm person has a better memory.
Then there is the ‘use it or lose it’ method of memory improvement. Use the brain. I work crossword puzzles and word games, read, memorize things like poems, take music lessons or not, or anything to keep the synapses popping from cell to cell between my ears. I can hear the popping as I remember how to type on this keyboard. All my fingers hit the correct buttons to create decipherable English.
“Thanks for the memory.” You are welcome, Bob Hope.
Now the real test; without looking, can you remember the first words of this discussion? Do you remember what it was all about?