My grandmother suffered from dementia, as did my father. Do I fear this disease? I suppose I expect to suffer some memory loss as I age, but I hope to keep my brain as healthy as possible. When we lose our memories, we tend to lose part of ourselves. Having a good memory helps us stay adaptable, independent and healthy and so it’s important to take proactive steps to prevent that loss if we can. We can certainly maintain or improve our working memory by developing some positive habits. Here are a few creative, fun, challenging activities to boost that brain power and memory.
Cultures from around the world used songs, music, myths and rituals as memory aids to remember knowledge and information. Using mnemonic devices was a technique I used with my students when they were trying to recall lists of items for their classes. First, you write your list of words and number them. As an example, think of a grocery list with three items: milk, cheese, and fruit. Then you rhyme each of the items with the corresponding item by creatively associating each object by visualizing it with a rhyme. The crazier the image, the better!
- 1 = bun – milk – visualize a bun floating in a sea of milk, bobbling up and down.
- 2 = shoe – cheese – visualize a shoe made of cheese as you take them off and take a bite
- 3 = tree – fruit – visualize a tree with fruit of all kinds, hanging from the branches (that one’s not to difficult to see)
Then when you go to buy your items, say the number and visualize the bizarre scene in your mind. If your memory fails, you always have your list with you! If you remembered to bring it.
Other ideas for improving memory are using acronyms such as having each letter represent a word. I know that when I go to prayer, I often use ACTS which stands for
- Acknowledge – how great God really is and praise him!
- Confession – ask for forgiveness of sins
- Thankfulness – thank the Lord for all the blessings in your life
- Supplication – asking for prayer for certain things
Or you could try breaking information into more manageable chunks. Phone numbers are a good example of how to group information into smaller parts. Even saying them aloud or to someone or repeating the numbers or information is helpful. I am a visual person, so I like to use a calendar and planner, sticky notes and even take photos or speak reminders on my phone of my list in case I forget it. Even absentminded doodling is great for recall and alertness.
And so, if people hear you talking aloud to yourself, find you aimlessly doodling or singing a little ditty, have no fear! Just tell them that you are working on improving your memory and then ask them to remind you of their name!