Remember mastering the order of the colors of the rainbow in elementary school? A lot of us were introduced to Roy G. Biv to learn this feat – one of the many mnemonics we learn that, interestingly, often stay with us for life.
As we age, some amount of memory impairment is to be expected; and, naturally, it’s much more pronounced when Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is a factor. Medical researchers are continuously seeking to identify effective ways to improve senior memory and cognitive functioning and have discovered some intriguing findings on “old school” techniques such as mnemonics. Here is what they’ve recently uncovered:
Mnemonics provides a connection to a memory through a phrase, abbreviation, song, etc. This type of training showed noteworthy results in increasing activity in areas of the brain that are affected by Alzheimer’s, producing increased retention of information.
There are limitless mnemonic strategies which can be highly effective in improving memory. As an example, try mnemonic keywords. These are a fun and creative way to memorize words in another language. It involves selecting a word that’s much like the new word you want to learn, and visualizing a picture that brings the 2 words together. For instance, if you’re attempting to remember that chapeau is French for the term “hat,” you might picture Charlie Chaplin and his infamous black hat. The “Chap” section of his name can trigger the very first letters in chapeau, and the memory will stick.
Spaced Retrieval Training
This strategy entails gradually increasing the period of time between memory tests and was shown to also be extremely effective for people with dementia. As compared to mnemonics, however, there was actually a decrease in brain activity, leading medical researchers to determine that the information had been processed more efficiently.
Spaced retrieval training is very helpful for improving independence and minimizing anxiety for those with cognitive challenges. Choose a desired event or activity for the person to remember, such as a lunch date with a pal on Friday. First ask the person a question to determine if the memory is already in place. If not, remind them that they’re having lunch with Sally on Friday. Wait 15 seconds, and ask the person the question again. In the event that the memory is in place now, double the time to 30 seconds, and ask again. Then, continue to double the time and ask again. In the event that the person doesn’t remember after 15 seconds, keep repeating the process every 15 seconds several more times before determining that it is not an effective technique, at least not with this particular event or activity.
Both strategies are simple, drug-free approaches to improve senior memory by incorporating them into the treatment for a person during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or for anyone who is looking for approaches to improve senior memory.
Let Home Sweet Home In-Home Care’s in-home caregivers in Portage and the surrounding areas provide additional resources and support for someone you love with Alzheimer’s. Our creative approaches to caregiving help maximize an older adult’s cognitive functioning, independence, and well-being. Contact us at (866)229-2505 for more information.