Duncaster Life

Less must-do. More want-to. | October 2022

Preserving Your Brain Power

Preserving Your Brain Power

Dr. Richard Restak, a neurologist and clinical professor at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health, has written a new book on keeping your memory sharp. In The Complete Guide to Memory: The Science of Strengthening Your Mind, Restak argues that aging doesn’t mean an inevitable decline in brain health, and offers easy tips and strategies to help you preserve your brain power.

Many people worry about forgetfulness as they grow older, wondering if minor incidences are a sign of a major malfunction. But, at any age, our memory is fallible. Often times, the reason our recall doesn’t work as well as we expect has more to do with distraction. If we aren’t focused on the moment, our brains will not properly encode information, making it difficult for us to remember details like names or where we put down our keys.

Other reasons memory may become compromised is because of depression, an infection or side-effects from medications. Usually when the root of these problems is addressed, cognition is restored.

In 2001, Daniel Schacter, PhD and professor of psychology at Harvard University, wrote the award winning book The Sevens Sins of Memory. He says memory is fallible for a variety of reasons which include:

  • Transience — when memories fade over time
  • Absent-mindedness — when distraction keeps information from being properly encoded in our mind
  • Misattribution — when we mix elements of different events into one memory
  • Bias — when our current knowledge or feelings skew how we recall the past

Dr. Restak has added three more obstacles to our memory:

  • Technological distortion — Phone numbers, photos and limitless information can be stored and instantly pulled up on our tech devices, making it unnecessary to remember
  • Technological distraction — Tech devices allow us to be constantly connected to someone or something which leads to our attention being divided and a lack of focus
  • Depression — This greatly reduces memory. When we’re in a bad mood or depressed, we tend to remember sad things

But, says Dr. Restak, the decline of memory is not inevitable and there are small things we can do every day to help us take charge of our memory.

  • Pay more attention — “Inattention is the biggest cause for memory difficulties.” Dr. Restak says. “It means you didn’t properly encode the memory.”
  • Challenge your memory every day — For example, choose not to use the GPS in the car or try to remember the items on your grocery list before you pull it out at the store to look at it
  • Play games — Chess and bridge are great, but so is 20 Questions
  • Be mindful of technology
  • Work with a mental health professional if needed

At Duncaster, you’ll find many ways to keep your mind sharp. From lifelong learning to resident groups and clubs to Duncaster 360® Wellness, it’s all right on campus, just steps from your front door.

If you’re ready to learn more about an engaging lifestyle that will keep your mind active and stimulated, call Lisa Greene, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, today at (860) 380-5006.

Sources: How to Protect Your Memory: Neuroscientist’s latest book proposes simple tips you can do to prevent a decline in remembering by Hope Reese for the New York Times, American Psychological Association, National Institute on Aging

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