As we get older, we spend more time caring for elderly parents or grandparents. One of the often heard comments is, “I must be losing my mind…I keep misplacing things like my car keys, eye glasses, or even where I park my car at the mall…”
Likely, those comments arise from two factors:
- A lifetime of eating fats and processed foods, which, to use a colloquial term, “clog our arteries” and starve the brain of nutrients needed to keep the brain healthy over a lifetime. Similar problem from eating a lifetime of processed and packaged foods which are so convenient, so great-tasting, and which satiate us enough to cause us to avoid the healthier, fresh, nutritiously-dense foods our brains need to stay healthy longer.
- The second cause is INATTENTIVENESS.
ACTION-ize A SOLUTION FOR CAUSE #1, AS STATED ABOVE–“clogged arteries”:
Though it may be too late for some people, the adage, “better late than never” may prove beneficial. Heart attacks, strokes, and other chronic ailments are being successfully treated, and in some instances, possibly even being reversed to some degree, by a growing list of doctors who place their patients on a treatment program of moderate exercise and a vegan, or a near-vegan, diet. REMEMBER to discuss any changes in your exercise program or your eating program with your physician who is authorized to diagnose and treat. Do not self-diagnose, change any therapy you may be on, or develop your own therapy programs…that’s what you doctor is for. Given that warning, you may still wish to read the following book and have a “healthier” discussion with your doctor: You can read more in Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s book, PREVENT AND REVERSE HEART DISEASE– click here to visit Amazon to check out that book.
ACTION-ize A SOLUTION FOR CAUSE #2, AS STATED ABOVE–“absentmindedness“:
Is forgetting due to absentmindedness or due to a more serious matter such as Altzheimer’s Disease? Only your doctor knows for sure. So seek medical advice from a qualified doctor. If you are certain it is from absentmindedness, then what follows will be of great interest.
We can make our brains remember much better by using a number of techniques to OVERCOME ABSENTMINDEDNESS.
What is absentmindedness? I think of it this way: the MIND is ABSENT or in a state of IDLENESS. Since a mind is never truly absent nor idle, that amounts to mere inattention. We are not paying attention for any number of reasons. In the matter of the elderly, I’m convinced that inattention comes from the MILD STRESS of wanting to “get everything done” in the time remaining. Since in most instances the elderly move slower, with more pain and distraction, and with deteriorating motor skills, every action becomes more difficult and more distracting.
As we age, we all may benefit from having a snowplow of sorts to be able to power through all the distractions that the elderly face and that we can describe as the stresses and anxieties associated to growing older. To help illustrate that, let’s use the tape-measure test.
Place a finger of one hand on the number that represents your current age, or the current age of your parent. Place a finger of the other hand on the age to which you or your parent EXPECT to actually live.
Notice that the life lived already is substantially LONGER than the remaining life expectancy. Or stated so you can feel the stress and anxiety a bit better…the life left to live is much, much shorter than what has already been lived. In that remaining and noticeably shorter remaining life span, a person has to fulfil all the unfulfilled goals, dreams, promises, hopes, and obligations, all the while by tending to daily tasks, chores, schedules, taking handfuls of medications at just the right time, and increasing numbers of doctor and hospital visits.
As we age stress and anxiety increase while our motor abilities decrease, which adds even more stress, anxiety and DISTRACTION.
Point is this: as we age, OUR MINDS ARE MORE APT TO JUMP AHEAD of the task at hand. So, we are not paying attention to the task at hand and therefore we fail to remember simply because we are not paying attention and because our minds are being cluttered with THINKING ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE AS WE ARE DOING.
So, for absentmindedness, if it is absentmindedness and not a more serious disease, the “cure” is simply to force the mind to PAY MORE ATTENTION to the action and task at hand.
How do we do that?
Just reading this Nugget is a step in the right direction. Meaning, now you know that much of elder absentmindedness stems from failing to pay attention. So, PAY MORE ATTENTION to the action at hand.
Reserve a spot for important items. When placing an object somewhere in the home, place it ALWAYS in exactly the same spot. That way if the mind slips back into old habits of jumping ahead of the moment, and your body is in “automatic pilot” at that moment, the first place you can check for the item is in its reserved spot. Similar tip for carry-alongs such as car keys, credit cards, etc. Always keep those items in an “always-that-spot” location. My car keys ALWAYS will be either in the back of a special shelf in my home or ALWAYS in my right-hand pants pocket. NEVER ANYWHERE ELSE. Not in my jacket pocket, not on the table when I come into my home. Always on my special shelf or in my right hand pants pocket. My redit card is ALWAYS in the third slot down on the inside left in my wallet and I ALWAYS PICK UP MY CARD BEFORE REACHING FOR THE BAG OF GOODIES I just purchased. I never have doubts about whereabouts of my car keys or credit card.
MNEMONIC TRICKS can be useful, too.
Those people we think are a genius who memorize 5 decks of cards, or a phone book, or the names of thousands of people in audiences make our brains salivate with envy. Would you be surprised to learn that those are, or used to be, ordinary people like you and me? That they still have non-super brain problems in some other areas, just like you and I do? Yet they can blow us away with their ability to remember certain things. How is that possible?
Other than being a savant, those memory masters use brain tricks called mnemonics.
One mnemonic “trick” is no trick at all. PAY ATTENTION TO SURROUNDINGS. Look carefully. Notice some elements around the item you wish to locate later.
Let’s take parking a car at the mall. I’ve helped a number of “elderly” people to locate their cars and when I do so I make it a point of politely pointing to things AROUND THE CAR, in the surroundings of the car, such as a lamp post, or the grocery carts’ return holding pen, or a curb, or a tall tree, or a building that can be seen in the distance only from that vantage point, and if indoors, the sign on the wall. “Oh, look at that…Your car is right beside…” or, “Oh, would you look at that…from here you can see the entrance to the mall and in the other direction you can see that flag in the distance…” And, I often get a response such as, “Oh, I never noticed that!” Take a micro-second to pay Attention to surroundings.
Another trick for the mind is to look back at the item, or where you parked, then rapidly blink from a distance to take a mental “snapshot”, a photo for the mind, of where you placed the item or left the car.
And one more trick…
Find something in the surrounding area that is permanent and ASSOCIATE the item you wish to remember to that immovable object. If you park your car in the underground parking garage, it may be the parking level letter painted on the wall. Let’s assume the car is parked in level B-2. In your mind’s eye, visualize two gigantic Bumble Bees attacking your car, grabbing your car and lifting it by the roof, one Bee holding the roof by grabbing it with its feet while it wings are flapping madly, and the other Bee doing the same on the passenger’s side. Those two bees lift your car and slam it into that “B-2” label on the wall.
You may need to tie together the B-2 and the exact parking space number if in a very large parking garage in which you may not be able to see the car from the entrance of off the elevator or stairway when you get to level B-2.
Though this method of association takes just about forever to explain to a novice at reading about mnemonics, it will take only a mere nano-second when you try it in the real world. Mnemonic experts, all of them, recommend making these associations as silly, as ridiculous, as exciting, as entertaining, as humorous, as exaggerated, as your mind will allow. The more unusual, the stronger the association will be.
To fight a declining memory, typical of aging, do the following:
- Improve diet: stop pouring FAT into arteries or spiking insulin levels with sugars or straining organs with high-salt foods and chemicals such as artificial sweeteners.
- Increase exercise: studies show 30 minutes of moderate-paced walking is beneficial to the brain and other organs.
- Switch off auto-pilot.
- Use auto-pilot to your advantage: place items in exactly the same spot always, and before moving to the next action or task.
- Observe. Before moving to the next action, take a food look around.
- Take a mental snapshot. Use the rapid eye-blinking technique to take a photo of the surroundings.
- Associate: use this mnemonic trick of typing the object to remember to a fixed object in your surroundings to trick the mind into remembering.