HUMOR – Remember, You’ve Always Been Forgetful

rosbyA lot of older people blame their age when they forget something. I think they’re forgetting how much they forgot when they were younger.

If there’s one thing I remember, it’s that I’ve always been forgetful. And I blame it on the same thing I’ve always blamed it on: I don’t pay attention. It’s hard to remember where I put my car keys if, while I’m putting them down, I’m trying to remember where I left my reading glasses.

Nevertheless, I know a lot of people who worry about their memory. So as a public service, I’m going to share some tips I’ve gleaned from the fount of all knowledge: the internet.

Tips for the Forgetful

1) Exercise. Some studies have found that regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of your hippocampus, the part of your brain that is central to memory and learning, even while it’s shown to reduce the size of other parts of your campus.

2) Eat right. Experts say a diet made up of fruits, vegetables, beans and foods that are high in healthy, unsaturated fats (olive oil, fish, nuts) is thought to be good for your brain and therefore for your memory. I can definitely vouch for the role of food in memory. I’ve cooked some pretty unforgettable meals. But I’m not sure that’s what they mean.

3) Relax. I’m sure you already know that chronic stress inhibits the immune system and causes headaches, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. But did you know it has also been shown to affect memory. There now; that ought to help you relax.

remember4) Sleep. Research suggests that memory consolidation takes place during sleep through the strengthening of the neural connections that form our memories. If only I’d known that back in college. That’s what I would have told my professor when I dozed off in his economics class.

5) Believe in yourself. According to the Harvard Health Beat Blog, older learners do worse on memory tasks when they’re exposed to negative stereotypes about aging and memory, and better when the messages are positive. When younger people make disrespectful comments about aging, we need to remind them gently that they’ll be older one day too—unless we kill them first. I’m joking! Forget I said that.

6)  Repeat it. Experts say when you want to remember something, you should write it down or repeat it out loud. For example, say “I’m putting the grocery list on the counter” or “Tomorrow is trash day.” I’m no memory expert, but I think you should not only say it, but say it loudly. That way if you still forget, maybe someone who was in earshot at the time can remind you.

Likewise, when you’re introduced to someone, repeat the name several times. “It’s nice to meet you, Susan. Isn’t the weather nice, Susan? What do you do for a living Susan?” Meanwhile, look closely at Susan until you begin to associate Susan’s name with her appearance—or until

she says, “My name isn’t Susan.” You may not remember what her name is after that, but you’ll definitely remember what it isn’t.

7) Use memory tricks, if you can remember any. I’m kidding! I know you can. Some examples include: “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles” is an easy way to remember the planets; RICE reminds us of the treatment for injured limbs (rest, ice, compression and elevation); and WDIPMCK stands for “where did i put my car keys?”

(Dorothy Rosby is the author of several humor books, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact drosby@rushmore.com.)

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