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Memory Tips From an Inspiring Memory Champion!

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In a little more than a minute, Nelson Dellis can memorize the exact order of a shuffled deck of playing cards and recite it back to you, flawlessly.

Give him five minutes, and he’ll memorize a string of over 300 digits, again, being able to repeat them without making a mistake.

Dellis isn’t a magician or a member of Mensa—he’s one of the millions of people whose lives have been forever altered by bearing witness to the agonizing decline of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Nobody really takes Alzheimer’s that seriously, unless they’ve witnessed it first-hand,” says Dellis, whose grandmother, Josephine, passed away from the disease in 2009. “Near the end it was extremely difficult, especially when she couldn’t remember who I was.”

Climbing mountains, both mental and physical

The profound experience of dealing with a beloved grandmother who could no longer remember his name inspired Dellis to pursue two goals: to safeguard his brain against the ravages of Alzheimer’s, and to establish “Climb for Memory,” a charity that coordinates climbing expeditions across the globe to raise money and awareness to combat the memory-robbing disease.

Dellis’ efforts have led him to lofty heights.

This March, he will attempt to win his third consecutive USA National Memory Championship: a yearly competition that pits the country’s best mental athletes against one another to see who can best perform monstrous feats of memorization, including a list of 500 words, an unpublished poem, and over 100 names and faces.

Dellis has also climbed some of the highest peaks in the world, including Mt. Ranier, Mt. McKinley, Mont Blanc and Alpamayo.

“I’ve always loved the mountains. There’s just something so humbling about them,” says Dellis, who came within 280 vertical feet of summiting the fabled Mt. Everest in 2011. “When you’re at the base of a mountain looking up, it just makes you feel so small and insignificant. It puts everything into perspective.” He will be making his second attempt to tackle the behemoth in the spring of 2013.

Dellis admits that his initial failure to reach the peak really hammered home the importance of preserving life’s little memories. “It’s good to remember that life is all about those little surrounding moments that build up to those major things, not the major things themselves,” he says.

Exercise of all forms helps preserve mental health

There’s no sure-fire way to stave off Alzheimer’s disease, but that doesn’t mean that one should adopt a defeatist attitude when it comes to aging and preventing memory loss. Just because you’re getting older and may forget where you put your car keys now and again is no cause for alarm.

According to board-certified neurologist, David Perlmutter, M.D., consistently challenging the brain with a combination of healthy social interactions, aerobic exercise and mental drills can be extremely advantageous for preserving long-term mental acuity. “Unlike other body systems, the brain retains a remarkable ability to regenerate itself, lifelong,” he says.

Dellis is the embodiment of this advice—engaging in a regular routine that involves brain exercises, CrossFit workouts and training for his climbs. Choosing to lead by example, his ultimate aim is to spread the word about brain health and educate people on how to improve their lives.

“If I can make people excited about memorization, staying fit, and having a healthy brain, then I feel like I’m doing my job,” he says. “It won’t cure Alzheimer’s, but it gets people thinking about it, and that can be contagious.”

Training tips from a memory champ

Your day-to-day life may not require you to memorize long strings of numbers, or the precise order of a deck of 52 cards.

But, here’s an easy way to incorporate one of Dellis’ go-to memory training techniques—called the “loci method”—into your everyday routine:

  1. First, think about your grocery list for the coming week. It may help to write it down and try to make each item as simple as possible (i.e. mozzarella cheese as opposed to Sargento brand, 2% milk mozzarella cheese). Let’s say your list has ten different things on it: grapes, bread, mint frozen yogurt, laundry detergent, dog food, bananas, milk, toilet paper, ground turkey and a gossip magazine.
  2. Once you have your list finalized, sit down and close your eyes.
  3. In your mind picture a place you’re very familiar with. Dellis suggests using your house.
  4. Picture yourself going about your regular routine—getting out of bed in the morning, brushing your teeth, checking on your loved one, going downstairs to make breakfast, etc.
  5. Next, begin adding in the items on your grocery list into your mental montage. The key part of this step is to add the items in a crazy, emotionally-charged (in other words, memorable) way.
  6. For example, imagine that when you get out of bed in the morning, your floor is covered in grapes. Whenever you step on them, the grapes squeal in protest. With your feet covered in sticky grape jam (what an annoying way to start the day), you stalk to the bathroom and furiously wipe them on your bath mat, which, as it turns out, is made entirely of bread. You grab your toothbrush and scoop some mint-flavored frozen yogurt onto it and begin to brush your teeth. After polishing your pearly whites, you walk into the hallway, where the dirty clothes in the hamper start pestering you about switching laundry detergents. The last few washes have been very unpleasant for them. And so on.
  7. By populating a familiar setting (your house) with outlandish, emotion-driven objects and occurrences, you’ll be able to more easily remember everything you need at the store, no list required.
To learn more about Climb for Memory, and stay up to date on Dellis’ progress as he attempts to summit Everest and snag a third consecutive USA Memory Championship, visit the Climb for Memory website.
By  Anne Marie Botek
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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today!   I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

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9 Brain Superfoods…Are You Enjoying Them Daily?

9 Brain Superfoods

 

Your brain controls every function in your body yet we rarely give it a  second thought.  And, few of us choose foods that protect or heal our  brain.  Here are some of the best foods for thought (literally):

1.  Spinach—More than Just for Popeye

A study of middle-aged rats fed diets with added spinach, strawberry extract,  or vitamin E for nine months found that spinach proved most potent in protecting  nerve cells against the effects of aging in two parts of the brain.  More  research needs to be done but it looks like Popeye was building more than  muscles when he ate spinach.

2.  Benefits of Blue for Grey Matter

Blueberries contain a group of plant nutrients called  proanthocyanidins.  Proanthocyanidins have a unique capacity to protect  both the watery and fatty parts of the brain against damage from some  environmental toxins.  Proanthocyanidins decrease free radical activity  within and between brain cells.  Blueberry proanthocyanidins have greater  antioxidant properties than vitamins C and E.  Blueberries appear to have  some of the highest concentrations of these powerful antioxidants.  In  other studies, researchers found that compounds in blueberries may reverse some  age-related memory loss and motor skill decline.

Blueberries are excellent anti-inflammatory agents. They increase the amounts  of compounds called heat-shock proteins that decrease as people age, thereby  causing inflammation and damage, particularly in the brain. By eating  blueberries regularly, research shows that these heat-shock proteins stop  declining and inflammation lessens, not to mention that they just taste  fabulous.

3.  From the Vine to Your Palate

A plant nutrient found in grapes, grape juice and red wine appears to protect  the brain against Alzheimer’s disease.  It’s called resveratrol, and it is  an antioxidant thought to be responsible for many of the purported benefits of  red wine on brain cells.  The researchers found that resveratrol protected  brain cells by mopping up free radicals before they can cause brain  damage.  And while people may prefer to hear that red wine is the best  source, the alcohol in wine is still damaging to brain cells.  Red or  purple grapes are the best option to load up on resveratrol.

4-7.  Omega 3s to Maintain a Healthy Brain (Wild Salmon,  Walnuts, Flax or Hemp Seeds)

The brain is 60% fat and requires healthy fats to reduce inflammation (linked  to most brain disorders) and maintain a healthy blood-brain barrier—a mechanism  intended to protect the brain from harmful substances.  Omega 3 fatty acids  like those found in salmon, walnuts, flax seeds or flax seed oil, or hemp seeds,  help to quell inflammation and support a strong blood-brain barrier, while  boosting our memory.  Be sure to choose only wild salmon  since high levels of mercury and PCBs have been found in farmed salmon and both  of these substances may have adverse effects on the brain.  Also, be sure  to choose raw walnuts, flax or hemp seeds or the oil made from  them since the fats contained in these nuts and seeds can have damaging effects  on brain health when heated.

8.  The Memory-Boosting Power of Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain a powerful memory-boosting phytonutrient called “lycopene.”  Research shows that those who consume lycopene in their daily  diets had sharper memories than those who didn’t consume high amounts of  lycopene.  Tomatoes aren’t the only source.  Another great source of  lycopene is watermelon.

9.  Tea for Two Hemispheres

Researchers found that people who drank two or more cups of tea each day were  less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.  Black and green tea  (especially green tea) contains potent antioxidants with twenty times the power  to protect against free radicals than vitamin E.  Green tea also lowers the  risk of blood clots and clumping linked to stroke.

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international  best-selling and 14-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine,  whose works include: 60 Seconds  to Slim, Healing Recipes, The  Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The  Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan,  and The Phytozyme Cure.  Check out her natural health resources and  subscribe to her free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com  to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook  and Facebook.

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life?  Please complete the information at www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html to schedule your consultation.  I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

consult ~  www.healthyhighway.org/contact.html

chews ~ www.Chews4Health.com/Leesa

enjoy ~ www.Chewcolat.com

follow ~ www.twitter.com/HealthyHighway

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3 Myths to Dispel About the Brain

What if we could improve our memory, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and keep our brains young with just a few simple mindfulness techniques?

Deepak Chopra recently appeared on the Dr. Oz show discussing memory and the brain. With the recent release of his new book, Super Brain, co-authored by Harvard neuroscientist Rudy Tanzi, there has been a lot in the air about the connection between the mind, aging and brain health. Deepak and Rudy discuss some key themes from the book, including memory, love, and sleep, on The Chopra Well series, SUPER BRAIN.

As it turns out, we have more of a say in the strength and resilience of our brains than we may have thought. Here are three myths to dispel before we can harness the power of our “super brains.” If we can wrap our minds around these, then we are off to a great start.

Myth #1: Over the course of our lives, our brains continuously lose cells that will never be replaced.

Truth: We do lose brain cells as a natural course of wear and tear (about one per second), but these cells are replaced and can even increase in a process called “neurogenesis.” Several thousand new nerve cells come into being every day in the hippocampus, home of short-term memory. We can promote the birth of these new cells by choosing to learn new things, take risks, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes avoiding emotional stress and trauma, which have been shown to inhibit neurogenesis.

Myth #2: The brain is hardwired and cannot be changed.

Truth: Our brains are actually incredibly flexible, if we can just learn to nurture and foster their development. The term for this “re-wiring” is neuroplasticity and is dependent on our own will to try new things, tackle new goals and experience change. The brain’s circuitry can be reshaped by our thoughts, desires, and experiences. This property has been vividly illustrated by dramatic recoveries after injuries, but it also comes to bear every time you take a new route to work or learn a new skill.

Myth #3: Memory loss with age is irreversible.

Truth: It is possible to prevent and even reverse memory loss! Ever misplaced your keys and blamed it on old age? The fact is, you have to learn something in the first place before you can forget it. So it may be that you just never learned where you placed your keys. Practice mindfulness as the first step toward building a resilient memory. Also, memories associated with feelings are much stronger than memories based in simple, hard fact. We must take an interest in everything going on around us, stay alert, and resist feeling hopeless or apathetic about the aging process. Our brains are capable of miracles, regardless of age.

By The Chopra Well

5 Diet Tips to Boost Your Memory

5 Diet Tips to Boost Your Memory

Doctors have been recommending dietary changes to their patients with such  conditions as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure for years.  Soon they may be doing the same for patients suffering from poor memory  function.

That’s because a host of new clinical studies have all found that specific nutritional  interventions can significantly improve memory function in patients with  Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and those with mild cognitive impairment.

But you don’t have to have Alzheimer’s to benefit from the new findings.  Eating a brain-healthy diet can also help those of us who, as we age, notice  that our mind and memory just aren’t as sharp as they used to be.

Here are 5 memory-boosting dietary recommendations, based on the latest  scientific research and clinical experience treating patients with AD and  MCI.

1. Proportion your fat-carb-protein intake.

Every day, make sure that you aim for 25% of your total calories from  brain-healthy good fat, which includes olive oil, avocados, certain  nuts, natural peanut butter, certain seeds, and certain fish. Limit your intake  of bad fats (most fast foods, anything hydrogenated, dried coconut, butter,  animal fats, milk chocolate and white chocolate, and cheese). Consume 30-45% of your daily calories from complex carbohydrates  (fruits, vegetables and whole foods that are low on the glycemic index), and  wean yourself off high glycemic carbs (sugars, high-fructose corn syrup,  processed cereals and grains, anything baked, whole milk and cream, ice cream  and sorbet, crackers, salty snacks such as chips and pretzels, and anything made  with white flour). Finally, get the other 25-35% of your calories from  high-quality lean protein.

2. Boost your brain nutrients.

Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) are essential for memory  function and brain health. Most of us don’t get enough from dietary sources  (such as fish), so consider high-quality, pure fish oil supplements that contain  a minimum of 250 mg of DHA in each capsule, and aim for 1,000-1,500 mg of DHA  daily if approved by the treating physician. Antioxidant-rich  foods are also great for mental function. Some of the best are berries,  kale, 100% pure unsweetened cocoa powder, mushrooms, onions, beans, seeds,  sardines, herring, trout, and Alaskan wild salmon. Finally, ensure adequate  intake of folic acid, B6, B12, and vitamin D in particular. If  you’re not eating vitamin-rich foods on a regular basis, it’s good to supplement  as needed in pill or liquid form.

3. Eat whole foods, Mediterranean style.

A brain-healthy Mediterranean-style diet includes fruits and vegetables, lean  protein (fish, chicken, and turkey); low-fat yogurt and cheeses; and grains,  nuts, and seeds. Stay away from red meat and processed foods. Get in the habit  of eating whole foods. What are whole foods? They’re foods that have only one  ingredient–for example, strawberries, broccoli, or barley. If you must have a  convenience (manufactured) food on occasion, find those packaged, canned, and  frozen items with the fewest ingredients–especially ingredients that you readily  recognize and understand.

4. Enjoy coffee and pure cocoa.

Good news for coffee lovers! Caffeinated coffee, 1-3 cups early in  the day, may be beneficial over time to your brain. Studies done in  Europe over several years demonstrate that men who drank coffee regularly for  many years showed less of a decline on memory tests than those who did not drink  coffee. More good news: An exciting new study released August 2012 showed that  patients with mild cognitive impairment who had regular intake of the strong  antioxidants found in pure dark cocoa powder had improvement in  memory function.  (Leesa recommends that your coffee and your chocolate be organic!)

5. Fast 12 hours at night.

If you routinely wake up at 6 a.m., try to eat your last meal at 6 p.m. the  night before. There is scientific evidence that substances called ketone bodies,  which are produced when there are no carbohydrates to burn for fuel, may have a  protective effect on brain cells. This means no late-night snacking  between dinner and breakfast.

* * * * *

Learn more about nutritional interventions for Alzheimer’s disease and mild  cognitive impairment in The Alzheimer’s Diet: A Step-by-Step  Nutritional Approach for Memory Loss Prevention and Treatment (www.thealzheimersdiet.com), coauthored by Harvard-trained  neurologist Richard Isaacson MD and Christopher Ochner PhD. Dr. Isaacson is an  associate professor of clinical neurology specializing in Alzheimer’s disease  and other memory and cognitive impairments at the University of Miami Miller  School of Medicine. Dr. Ochner is a leading researcher on nutrition and the  brain at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the New York Obesity Nutrition  Research Center (Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons).

Care2 Healthy Living Guest  Blogger

7 Super-Healing Summer Berries

7 Super-Healing Summer Berries

 

Berries are a delicious addition to any diet.  But,  taste is not the only reason to love them.  Here’s why you should add these  seven super-healing summer berries to your diet:

Blackberries

Loaded with vitamin C, blackberries also contain ellagic acid—an important  phytonutrient that protects skin cells from damaging UV rays. Ellagic acid also  prevents the breakdown of collagen in the skin that occurs as we age and is  linked to wrinkling.

Blueberries

Blueberries are phytonutrient powerhouses.  They  contain: anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin, catechins, and salicylic acid.  If the latter sounds familiar, you may recognize it as the drug we’ve come to  know as Aspirin. That’s right—blueberries contain natural aspirin, but in this  beautiful and delicious packaging offered by Mother Nature, there’s no worry  about harmful side effects. What’s more, blueberries are proven to reduce heat  shock proteins that are linked with some forms of brain disease, making these  little marvels potent weapons in the prevention of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s  disease as well as other neurological disorders.

 

Loganberries

A cross between blackberries and raspberries, these berries  strengthen blood  vessels, making them an excellent addition to help  fight heart disease or  varicose veins. They contain rutin, which  research shows strengthens  capillaries and improves circulation. They  look like long raspberries.

Currants

Currants contain gamma-linolenic acid that inhibit the body’s histamine—the  allergic response in reaction to pollens. That makes them great to help you  avoid or eliminate sinus congestion and itchy eyes linked to seasonal allergies.  Since they are tart, you might enjoy them best mixed with other berries.

Raspberries

Raspberries are still my favorite fruit. Raspberries, like other  berries,  contain an important compound that is 10 times more effective  at alleviating  inflammation than aspirin. Containing the phytonutrient  ellagic acid,  raspberries can help protect against pollutants found in  cigarette smoke,  processed foods, and may neutralize some cancer-causing  substances before they  can damage healthy cells. They’re delicious on  their own, in a fruit salad, in  a smoothie, or on top of a green salad.

 

Gooseberries

Gooseberries—the berries that resemble green grapes—help you to feel  happier.  In recent research in the journal Experimental  Neurobiology,   scientists found that gooseberries contain a flavonoid  called   kaempferol that prevents the breakdown of brain hormones serotonin and   dopamine. These brain chemicals naturally help us fight stress and keep   our  spirits up.

Strawberries

More than delicious, when it comes to disease prevention, these babies pack a  serious punch. Not only do eight strawberries contain more vitamin C than an  orange, they are antioxidant powerhouses. Whether you want to evade heart  disease, arthritis, memory loss, wrinkling, or cancer, these berries have proven  their ability to help. Plus, they’re just so easy to get into your diet on a  regular basis.

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international  best-selling and twelve-time book author and doctor of traditional natural  medicine, whose works include: Healing Recipes, The Vitality Diet,  Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The  Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan,  and The Phytozyme Cure.  Check out her natural health resources and  subscribe to her free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com.

Image credit (loganberry): ndrwfgg / Flickr

Brain Experts’ 6 Best Memory Tricks

Brain Experts’ 6 Best Memory Tricks 

Wish your memory were a little sharper? Want to remember names and numbers as well as you could a few years back? Brain experts swear by the following six simple techniques.

1. Never forget a name: Look, snap, connect.

There are three steps to psychiatrist Gary Small’s favorite tactic, which he calls “Look, Snap, Connect.” The first is to tell yourself that remembering a particular name is a priority, says Small, who’s also the director of the UCLA Center on Aging and author of several books about memory and cognition, including The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head.

Step 1: Really focus (LOOK) on a name and face you want to remember.

Step 2: Create a visual snapshot (SNAP) of the name and face. Note a key visual characteristic: Big ears? Silver hair? Blue eyes? Dimples? Also create an image about the name: A cat stands for Mrs. Katz, a dollar bill for someone named Bill. “I sometimes see a famous person with a similar name,” Small says. “So Angela Shirnberger becomes Angelina Jolie wearing shined shoes and eating a burger.”

Step 3: Join the two images (CONNECT): Maybe blue-eyed Bill is a blue dollar bill, or Angela Shirnberger is a silver-haired Angelina Jolie with shiny shoes eating a hamburger. The simple act of thinking up these images helps cement them in your memory — and ups the odds that the new name will materialize for you the next time you encounter the person.

2. Another name trick: Use it before you lose it.
If a new name goes in one ear and out the other, try to trap it inside your head by using it immediately, suggests University of Wisconsin geriatric psychiatrist Ken Robbins, who’s also board certified in internal medicine. When you meet John Jones, Robbins says, deliberately repeat his name: “Nice to meet you, John.”

Then use his name in conversation every few minutes while you talk: “So John, how long have you been with your company?” And, “That’s a great point, John.” You might feel a little like a genial newscaster, but you don’t have to overdo it. Every few minutes is sufficient.

Remembering names is tricky because we’re distracted by the social interactions of the moment. And names are arbitrary, a type of information that’s harder to retain.

“Simply saying the name aloud a few times helps it stick,” Robbins says. As you walk away from the person, say the name again to yourself: “So that was John Jones of ABC Company.”

3. To remember to do something: Picture it.

Don’t want to forget to meet your friend for lunch? Need to remember to take your medicine? Create an image that associates the task with something else happening around the same time, and then picture yourself following through when you see that cue, suggests memory specialist Mark McDaniel, a professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Say the mailman comes just before lunch. Now picture yourself getting up to go to lunch when you see the mail truck. Odds are good that when the truck appears, that’s what you’ll do.

“The concrete environmental event cues you. It triggers the intention,” McDaniel says. Studies have shown that women who visualize doing breast self-exams in the shower are more likely to actually do them. Diabetics are more likely to monitor blood glucose daily when the task is tied to another everyday event.

More examples: Remember to take a new morning medication by imagining yourself doing so when you sip juice at breakfast (if you have juice every day). Remember to drop off dry cleaning by picturing doing so as you pass a particular landmark at that intersection.

4. To remember where things are: Put them in your path.

Visual reminders are like crutches. Without them, we have to conjure up an answer from thin air (“Now where did I put my umbrella?”) or, worse, remember to remember the thing in the first place (“Darn! Forgot my umbrella again!”). Storing an umbrella (or keys, or sunglasses) right by the door makes you more likely to remember to find it and take it with you. Having a habitual storage spot, like an umbrella stand, is another memory booster.

“Leaving it where you can see it so you don’t forget helps your prospective memory, which is remembering to remember things, like where you put something,” psychiatrist Gary Small says.
But what if the umbrella stand becomes “invisible” to you because it’s sunny on most days, so you risk forgetting the thing when it rains? Again, use a visual reminder, Small says. Move the umbrella right in front of the door as soon as you see the rain forecast.

Similarly, leave papers you need to take home with you on the floor beside your desk, right in your footpath. Assemble ingredients on a counter before you begin cooking, so you’re unlikely to forget
any. Put a package bound for UPS in your car when you have it ready; don’t expect to remember to look for it when you’re leaving the house.

5. To recall important events: Do a nightly review.
Parents sometimes use a “review the day” tactic at bedtime to give young kids a warm, fuzzy feeling and to recap the day’s best teachable moments. A similar process can help your brain recap what’s important.

It’s easy: Before going to bed, run a mental review of the key things that happened that you want to
remember. You got a call confirming an appointment for tomorrow? Promised a friend you’d follow up about lunch? Made a new acquaintance? (What was her name? Her job? Her partner’s name?)

Better yet: Carry a small notebook into which you jot critical things to remember during the day. Review these notes at day’s end. “Most people find that the combination of writing and then reviewing really helps,” psychiatrist Ken Robbins says.

6. To recollect anything: Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

A tactic that goes by the fancy names of “spaced rehearsal” or “expanded retrieval” is a favorite because it’s so effective. Simply repeat something over and over at slightly extended intervals. Memory specialist Professor Mark McDaniel says the tactic is often used with Alzheimer’s patients. “And if it works for many of them, it can work for someone with a healthy brain,” he says.

To use it: Say you want to remember a name or a short grocery list, or — as is often the case for Alzheimer’s patients — you need to remind yourself or your loved one to check a calendar. Repeat the
name or task to yourself. Wait 15 seconds. Silently say it again to yourself. (“Bob Smith” or “Check the calendar.”) Wait 45 seconds. Bring it back up. Wait 90 seconds, then repeat. “If you can remember it after five minutes, you’re in good shape,” McDaniel says. “It’s been well stored.”

“Spaced is the operative word,” says Martha Weinman Lear, author of Where Did I Leave My Glasses? The What, When and Why of Normal Memory Loss. “Rapid cramming — muttering someone’s name to yourself over and over in rapid succession — is not the best way to commit a name, or anything else, to memory.”

By Paula Spencer, Caring.com senior editor

9 Easy Ways to Boost Brain Power

9 Easy Ways to Boost Brain Power

Forget almost everything you have been taught over the years about the aging human brain. Almost 70 years ago, a scientist declared that the aging brain diminished in memory, agility, and functionality while increasing in senility. Without much challenge, this theory was accepted for decades and taught as fact.

In reality, more recent studies have shown that the aging brain can continue to function actively and effectively if we recognize its needs for nutrition, challenge, reducing stress, exercise and more. “Use it or lose it,” say authors Alan D. Bragdon and David Gamon, Ph.D., in their book by the same title.

Many of today’s older adults have also been influenced by the long-time assumptions that the brain, mind and memory of an older person is a failing process. Therefore, they turn their daily lives to endless viewing of television, unhealthy eating, and increased complaining while also increasing personal stress. They abandon dreams and direction for the future.

1. Focus on nutrition: Proper nutrition is vital, particularly a diet strong in antioxidants. Fresh fruits and vegetables are vital to provide what other parts of the body or system may now be denying to the brain and its function. Other physical challenges are probably reducing the effectiveness of the immune system; therefore, the addition of all the more antioxidants can definitely benefit the brain and its function. Interestingly, most research endorses coffee and its caffeine ingredient as a benefit to better brain function. And caffeinated teas may be of similar benefit.

2. Games, fun and solutions: Play games that call for thinking and evaluating before action. Playing cards with others can stimulate brain function while also providing sociable times with family members and friends. Puzzles, including crosswords, picture puzzles and word puzzles are great brain stimulants.

3. Involve your kids: Ask them to work on and complete a puzzle or game with you every day, or every week. When such is accomplished, congratulate your child for being a great teammate. Again, social interaction boosts the benefit of doing fun puzzles.

4. Start a diary: Start a daily diary, and even buy a quality book or binder plus a special pen to start. Share in the diary what you have accomplished over the years. The diary could also include “things or projects I want to do,” so to define many positive events and projects for the future. When you start sharing about tomorrow, a lot of stress and depression can start to disappear.

5. Stop smoking: Of course, this will be a challenge. But there are no benefits, but only negative effects to the brain from smoking. Smoking also contributes to diseases, including COPD.

6. Invite visitors over: Loneliness is a real downer for some adults, particularly if they withdraw from social events or relationships. Invite visitors to spend time with you, whether on a one-time or weekly basis.

7. Start walking: Physical exercise and movement is vital to the functioning of the adult brain and its best functioning. Daily walking, even several times around the block, is something that almost anyone can do. If you have current challenges in walking, perhaps 30 minutes each day, then in-home exercises, as simple as standing on one leg for 12 to 20 seconds and shifting to the other leg, may be appropriate and effective. The exercise produces aerobic benefits to the brain as well as the lungs, heart and general physical condition.

8. Keep laughing: There’s something to be said for the old saying “Laughter is the best medicine.” The act of laughing has been proven to have health benefits. If you are isolated a lot, movies and books can provide entertainment. Both Netflix.com and blockbuster.com enable you to order movies online and they will be delivered directly to the home – no need to run out to the video store.

9. Get out of the house: At least once each week, go somewhere. It may to a restaurant or bistro for a meal, a visit to a fair, entertainment or special event in your region or, even something as simple as lunch. This continues to open the world to you, while ensuring that you are still part of it.

By Leonard J. Hansen, AgingCare.com

Brain Experts’ 6 Best Memory Tricks

Brain Experts’ 6 Best Memory Tricks

Wish your memory were a little sharper? Want to remember names and numbers as well as you could a few years back? Brain experts swear by the following six simple techniques.

1. Never forget a name: Look, snap, connect.

There are three steps to psychiatrist Gary Small’s favorite tactic, which he calls “Look, Snap, Connect.” The first is to tell yourself that remembering a particular name is a priority, says Small, who’s also the director of the UCLA Center on Aging and author of several books about memory and cognition, including The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head.

Step 1: Really focus (LOOK) on a name and face you want to remember.

Step 2: Create a visual snapshot (SNAP) of the name and face. Note a key visual characteristic: Big ears? Silver hair? Blue eyes? Dimples? Also create an image about the name: A cat stands for Mrs. Katz, a dollar bill for someone named Bill. “I sometimes see a famous person with a similar name,” Small says. “So Angela Shirnberger becomes Angelina Jolie wearing shined shoes and eating a burger.”

Step 3: Join the two images (CONNECT): Maybe blue-eyed Bill is a blue dollar bill, or Angela Shirnberger is a silver-haired Angelina Jolie with shiny shoes eating a hamburger. The simple act of thinking up these images helps cement them in your memory — and ups the odds that the new name will materialize for you the next time you encounter the person.

2. Another name trick: Use it before you lose it.
If a new name goes in one ear and out the other, try to trap it inside your head by using it immediately, suggests University of Wisconsin geriatric psychiatrist Ken Robbins, who’s also board certified in internal medicine. When you meet John Jones, Robbins says, deliberately repeat his name: “Nice to meet you, John.”

Then use his name in conversation every few minutes while you talk: “So John, how long have you been with your company?” And, “That’s a great point, John.” You might feel a little like a genial newscaster, but you don’t have to overdo it. Every few minutes is sufficient.

Remembering names is tricky because we’re distracted by the social interactions of the moment. And names are arbitrary, a type of information that’s harder to retain.

“Simply saying the name aloud a few times helps it stick,” Robbins says. As you walk away from the person, say the name again to yourself: “So that was John Jones of ABC Company.”

3. To remember to do something: Picture it.

Don’t want to forget to meet your friend for lunch? Need to remember to take your medicine? Create an image that associates the task with something else happening around the same time, and then picture yourself following through when you see that cue, suggests memory specialist Mark McDaniel, a professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Say the mailman comes just before lunch. Now picture yourself getting up to go to lunch when you see the mail truck. Odds are good that when the truck appears, that’s what you’ll do.

“The concrete environmental event cues you. It triggers the intention,” McDaniel says. Studies have shown that women who visualize doing breast self-exams in the shower are more likely to actually do them. Diabetics are more likely to monitor blood glucose daily when the task is tied to another everyday event.

More examples: Remember to take a new morning medication by imagining yourself doing so when you sip juice at breakfast (if you have juice every day). Remember to drop off dry cleaning by picturing doing so as you pass a particular landmark at that intersection.

4. To remember where things are: Put them in your path.

Visual reminders are like crutches. Without them, we have to conjure up an answer from thin air (“Now where did I put my umbrella?”) or, worse, remember to remember the thing in the first place (“Darn! Forgot my umbrella again!”). Storing an umbrella (or keys, or sunglasses) right by the door makes you more likely to remember to find it and take it with you. Having a habitual storage spot, like an umbrella stand, is another memory booster.

“Leaving it where you can see it so you don’t forget helps your prospective memory, which is remembering to remember things, like where you put something,” psychiatrist Gary Small says.
But what if the umbrella stand becomes “invisible” to you because it’s sunny on most days, so you risk forgetting the thing when it rains? Again, use a visual reminder, Small says. Move the umbrella right in front of the door as soon as you see the rain forecast.

Similarly, leave papers you need to take home with you on the floor beside your desk, right in your footpath. Assemble ingredients on a counter before you begin cooking, so you’re unlikely to forget
any. Put a package bound for UPS in your car when you have it ready; don’t expect to remember to look for it when you’re leaving the house.

5. To recall important events: Do a nightly review.
Parents sometimes use a “review the day” tactic at bedtime to give young kids a warm, fuzzy feeling and to recap the day’s best teachable moments. A similar process can help your brain recap what’s important.

It’s easy: Before going to bed, run a mental review of the key things that happened that you want to
remember. You got a call confirming an appointment for tomorrow? Promised a friend you’d follow up about lunch? Made a new acquaintance? (What was her name? Her job? Her partner’s name?)

Better yet: Carry a small notebook into which you jot critical things to remember during the day. Review these notes at day’s end. “Most people find that the combination of writing and then reviewing really helps,” psychiatrist Ken Robbins says.

6. To recollect anything: Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

A tactic that goes by the fancy names of “spaced rehearsal” or “expanded retrieval” is a favorite because it’s so effective. Simply repeat something over and over at slightly extended intervals. Memory specialist Professor Mark McDaniel says the tactic is often used with Alzheimer’s patients. “And if it works for many of them, it can work for someone with a healthy brain,” he says.

To use it: Say you want to remember a name or a short grocery list, or — as is often the case for Alzheimer’s patients — you need to remind yourself or your loved one to check a calendar. Repeat the name or task to yourself. Wait 15 seconds. Silently say it again to yourself. (“Bob Smith” or “Check the calendar.”) Wait 45 seconds. Bring it back up. Wait 90 seconds, then repeat. “If you can remember it after five minutes, you’re in good shape,” McDaniel says. “It’s been well stored.”

“Spaced is the operative word,” says Martha Weinman Lear, author of Where Did I Leave My Glasses? The What, When and Why of Normal Memory Loss. “Rapid cramming — muttering someone’s name to yourself over and over in rapid succession — is not the best way to commit a name, or anything else, to memory.”

By Paula Spencer, Caring.com senior editor

   Caring.com was created to help you care for your aging parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. As the leading destination for eldercare resources on the Internet, our mission is to give you the information and services you need to make better decisions, save time, and feel more supported. Caring.com provides the practical information, personal support, expert advice, and easy-to-use tools you need during this challenging time.

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