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As we get older, we start to get concerned that we might be loosing our memory. In the past, when we lost an item – maybe your car keys as you are trying to quickly get out the door – we were able to rationalize it innocently. Oops, I didn’t put them in the right place when I got home last night. Maybe you convince yourself that someone else that lives in your home must have moved them. Or you can even convince yourself that THEY are hiding, never mind that they are an inanimate object.
When do we cross that innocent frustration, into the realm of blaming ourselves and worrying that we are on the path of memory loss? It’s a tough thing to wrap our heads around. We hear so much information on the signs and symptoms of memory loss. We know that we are the best judge of our own abilities, so how do you properly assess your abilities? When should you talk to someone about your concerns?
June Is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month
If you are interested in reading more information on what to do if you think you are going through memory loss, the Alzheimer’s Association has a great page for you to check out https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/memory-loss-concerns. You can even download 2 different guides; one if you’ve noticed changes in yourself, and one if you’ve noticed changes in someone close to you. These guides come in both English and Spanish. They also have a Training and Education Center on their website where you can download a great variety of documents to help you make the best decisions. https://training.alz.org/?_ga=2.18500155.380514112.1560185251-2069118302.1560185251
How to Strengthen Your Brain
When you give your brain a workout, at any age, we strengthen our millions of neural pathways. These pathways help up to solve problems, recall information quickly, and process information to better understand. Memory is like muscular strength, if we don’t use it, we will lose it. The more we do to exercise our brain, the better it will be able to remember and process information.
Here are 4 ways that you can challenge yourself to develop new pathways in your brain.
- Learn Something New – Find an activity that is outside of your comfort zone, and something that you are completely unfamiliar with. Learning new skills will help you to build those neural pathways in your brain.
- Challenge Yourself – Look for activities that require your mental effort. The best projects to boost your brain are things that will need your full attention. Perhaps you have always done word search puzzles because they were fun and easy for you. The next time you want to do a puzzle, try a complex crossword puzzle instead. It doesn’t matter if you finish the puzzle in record time, or even if you finish it at all. Your brain will celebrate the workout.
- Look for Something that is Rewarding to You – The more interested you are in an activity, the more rewarding your learning process will be. I’ve always enjoyed music, so years ago I bought a used violin. I’ve never taken lessons, but when I first got it I enjoyed trying to learn a tune by ear. I started with easy songs like, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and next tried figuring out Christmas Carols that I had learned on the piano, and so on. I think it’s time that I pull my violin out of it’s case, and figure out some new songs! What challenge are you going to try?
- Choose a Skill you can Build On – It’s fun to learn a new skill, or game, or activity that can grow with you. Starting out on an easy level and then working up to more challenging levels as you improve. I have a family member that is studying Taekwondo. Each time they reach their accomplishments on a certain level, they get a new belt color to signify the next level that are working on mastering.
Every one of us deserves time to give your brain a workout and keep our skills and memories functioning strong. I’m going to tune up my violin and learn a new song this week. What activity are you going to do this week to improve your brain? Please drop a comment below to let us know what challenge you are going to take on.