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How's Your Memory?

As you know, normal aging is often related to some memory lapses. The key questions are, when does memory loss become serious and is there any way to prevent its progression?

If you misplace your car keys or your glasses once or twice a day, that could be quite normal, for a 70, 80, 90 year old. If you find your car keys and try to open a can of soup with them, that could indicate a more serious problem. If you can laugh at yourself when you find a misplaced item, that is a good sign. If you can devise a strategy for NOT losing them in the first place, that is even better.

Keeping the keys or glasses in the same place all the time helps and saying out loud as you do it—"I'm putting the keys on the hook by the door," makes it easier to recall where you put them, for example. Using multiple senses helps you remember. Say it, hear it, see it, touch it, and write it down if necessary.

Making word games to help you remember people's names works well too. "That was Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Smith—Smith's Pies, Smith's Pies," you say, linking her name with something familiar.

Long-term research studies have shown that those who use their minds the most, use their memory the most, are less likely to have serious memory loss, leading to dementia/Alzheimer's disease.

Reading or doing crossword puzzles is much better than watching TV. Writing a poem or playing Scrabble is far better than dozing off in a rocking chair. Learning new dance steps is a good way to keep the mind active, studies have shown.

You know the important message about exercising regularly, even in small doses. The same is true with exercising your mind. It is never too late to increase your mental activity, your memory activity. Making it fun, with something you enjoy, works best.

If you or someone you know has serious lapses multiple times, such as leaving the car running in the garage, leaving the oven on past a meal, getting lost in the immediate neighborhood, further evaluation is promptly necessary.

So, get out your dancing shoes, the puzzles, the books, the chess set!

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