Category: Memory

I Didn’t Let Alzheimer’s Steal My Future

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When my doctor told me I was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, I was devastated.

Not wanting to become a burden to my children, I sold my house, moved to an assisted living center, and waited for Alzheimer’s to finish robbing me of whatever quality of life I had left.

I’d been talking slower and getting confused. I couldn’t even remember my address! But the greatest loss of all had been reading. Before, I’d enjoyed reading books, magazines and my Bible every single day. Now, I could read a paragraph over and over and not understand or remember anything I’d read!

I began to sink into depression.

That December, someone gave me a book about the brain’s ability to create new neurons at any age. The book mentioned a company—LearningRx—that pairs you up with a brain trainer who takes you through special mental exercises, stimulating your brain to reorganize existing neurons and even create new ones.

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Concussions from School Sports Were Keeping David from Landing His Dream Career

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 Sometimes David got to the locker room and  couldn’t remember the football game he’d just played.

In junior high, David had been a straight A student. But after a concussion, he began struggling in school, and additional concussions while playing football in high school only made things worse.

Years later, married and with a baby on the way, David graduated from a police academy. But repeatedly his applications for jobs were rejected because his test scores were too low.  After applying to 56 police departments—without a single job offer—David called LearningRx.

He calls what happened next “an awakening” of his brain.

“Shortly after starting brain training, I remembered a dream I’d had the night before,” David says. “That hadn’t happened since… well, since I was a kid! After that, improvements just kept coming.”

One day, driving on a familiar tree-lined street David realized that, in his peripheral vision, he could see houses past the trees. For years, his field of vision had only included the street and the trees. Brain training was even improving his vision!

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Want a Better Memory? Do These Three Things (And Don’t Do These)

Your memory is powered by core brain skills, also known as cognitive skills. But your brain isn’t exactly the Lone Ranger. It can’t function by itself (or even with a single trusted friend named Tonto). Instead, your brain depends on myriad systems in your body (and the health of those systems) in order to do its best work.

To keep your body, your brain (and your memory) riding strong, here are three things you should do (and three things you should avoid):

1. Do treat depression. Everybody feels blue now and then, and these feelings usually mosey on out of our lives by themselves. Ongoing depression, however, is another matter and can lead to numerous health risks and problems. For example, long-term depression elevates levels of cortisol in the brain. This can shrink the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for short term memory. One study showed that people who had been depressed–even if it was years ago–had smaller hippocampuses by as much as 15%. Because the hippocampus helps process short term memories, long-term depression can impair the ability to hang onto new information. If you have been depressed or sad for more than six weeks, get help. See a doctor or mental health professional.

2. Do exercise your body. Your brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. Exercise not only increases blood flow temporarily, it also helps keep your heart and arteries healthy so that even when you’re not exercising, blood flow to the brain stays strong. Even more fascinating, studies show that regular aerobic exercise actually grows new brain cells in the hippocampus (yes, the memory-processing part of your brain that long-term depression can shrink). Extra good news: Exercise is a recognized treatment for depression, too! In one study by the National Academy of Sciences, a three-month program of vigorous aerobic exercise produced a 30 percent increase in hippocampus brain cells!

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You Created Some Great Holiday Memories. Now Hang Onto Them.

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With Thanksgiving and Christmas behind us, you probably had the chance to hang out with friends and family, creating warm, festive memories.

Now all you have to do is remember them.

As we age, memory can weaken. The good news is that memory skills are not “fixed.” You can improve and strengthen your ability to remember important events and details in your life. This is because of something called neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s life-long ability to reorganize, strengthen, and even create brand new connections that allow us to store and retrieve information, including memories!

Here are three ways to protect and even improve your ability to remember the important events and details in your life:

1. Practice the 8-second rule. Sometimes we can’t remember something because we never focused on it long enough to get the information into our memory banks to begin with. By practicing and strengthening your attention skills, your brain will have what it needs to retrieve the information later. A good rule of thumb is to focus for a minimum of eight seconds on whatever it is you want to remember later.

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