Forgetting a name, plot details of a movie, what groceries we intend to buy etc. are generally considered to be fine and part of aging. As we age we accept such “senior moments.” But memory is more than brief (short-term) and lasting (long-term) information storage and retrieval. We process bits of data while we keep them in mind—adding a column of figures, thinking of what we’ll say next as we take in the other side of a conversation—with a more fluid faculty called working memory.
Gradual memory decline is part of normal ageing, such that many elders feel that they have poor memory or worry that they have dementia. In fact, loss of memory is influenced by physical health, lifestyle habits and educational level of the individual. Older people are capable of maintaining a good memory through exercising their minds frequently and using appropriate memory skills.
Mythsabout "Memory Loss"debunked- Old people are bound to have poor memory? Old people cannot learn new things? We can do nothing to improve our memory? Old people with poor memory must be suffering from dementia?
The Truth:The speed of memory loss is usually very slow during normal aging process. It becomes obvious only after 70 years, while the short term memory (from a few seconds to 1 to 2 minutes), the long term memory (years ago) and the memory about procedures (the steps of yoga) will not be affected under usual situation. In general, the elders can keep good learning ability, especially in conceptual ideas and skills, e.g. playing chess and cooking etc. In Dementia cases apart from the memory decline, the disease also affect the ability to judge, understand and learn.
Various Factors affecting Memory in the Elderly: are Inattention and external interference or distractions, fatigue leading to poor concentration, Lack of opportunity to practice and rehearse, Psychological stress and emotional problems like depression and anxiety and lack of confidence.
Tips to improve: Attending to one task at a time, simplifies information sent to the brain. Linking items to old memories and forming images. Dividing numerical information into groups eg. telephone nos. 21218080. Categorizing information by putting similar items in the same list for e.g. when shopping all the vegetables are written on the top of the shopping list Summarizing information: understand information thoroughly and focus attention on the main points, put aside the details, Rehearsing and practicing repeatedly. Being observant of special features, eg special facial characteristics for remembering. Seeking medical attention as soon as possible if there is a hearing or eyesight issue. Use coping strategies or memory aids, e.g. draw up checklists and timetable, use tape recorder and electrical appliances such as medication alarm, big calendar, colorful labels and pictures, etc.
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