Remember learning the order of the colors of the rainbow in elementary school? A number of us were introduced to Roy G. Biv to master this feat – one of many mnemonics we learn that, surprisingly, often stays with us for life. Such a simple idea can often help improve memory.
As we get older, some amount of memory impairment is to be expected; and naturally it is much more pronounced when Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is a factor. Medical researchers are continually seeking to locate effective approaches to improve memory and cognitive functioning, and have observed some interesting findings on “old school” strategies such as mnemonics. Here is what they’ve most recently identified:
Mnemonics produces a link to a memory through a song, phrase, abbreviation, etc. This particular training revealed noteworthy results in increasing activity in areas of the brain that are affected by Alzheimer’s, resulting in increased retention of information.
You will find limitless mnemonic strategies which can be really effective in improving memory. For example, try mnemonic keywords. These are a fun and creative way to memorize words in a different language. It involves choosing a word that’s much like the new word you wish to learn, and visualizing an image that brings the 2 words together. For instance, if you’re wanting to remember that chapeau is French for the term “hat,” you can picture Charlie Chaplin and his infamous black hat. The “Chap” element of his name can trigger the initial letters in chapeau, and the memory will stick.
Spaced Retrieval Training
This strategy entails gradually increasing the time frame between memory tests and was shown to be highly successful for people with Alzheimer’s. In comparison to mnemonics, however, there was actually a reduction in brain activity, leading medical researchers to determine that the information had been processed more efficiently.
Spaced retrieval training is very helpful for maximizing independence and reducing anxiety for those with cognitive challenges. Choose a desired activity or event for the person to keep in mind, like a lunch date with a friend on Friday. First ask the person a question to ascertain whether 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. If the memory is in place now, increase the time to 30 seconds, and ask again, continuing to double the time and ask again. In the event that the person does not remember after 15 seconds, keep repeating the method every 15 seconds several more times before determining whether this is simply not an effective technique, at least not with this particular event or activity.
Both tactics are simple, drug-free approaches to incorporate into the treatment plan for a person in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and for anyone who is seeking approaches to improve memory.
Let Golden Harmony provide additional resources and support for someone you love with Alzheimer’s. Our creative approaches to caregiving help maximize a senior’s cognitive functioning, independence, and quality of life. Contact us at 919-426-7522 for additional information about our senior care services in Raleigh, NC and the nearby areas.