This article is part of the Dr Allison Lamont topic. Below are more articles in this topic.
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The over-50s is one of the fastest growing segments of the population, and along with being a baby boomer comes the concern about ever-increasing number of memory lapses: forgetting where you put the car keys, a friend’s name mysteriously slipping right away just as you introduce them to another acquaintance, finding yourself in another room with no idea of why you went there… Is this your experience?
Ensuring you guard against memory loss is every bit as important as your physical well-being. Declining memory skills are by no means inevitable.
In 2008, my four-year research into age-related memory loss was published and I have since had the opportunity to address conferences in the USA, UK, and New Zealand about the six key areas of memory that are pivotal in maintaining a confident, active and independent lifestyle in later life. Over the coming issues of GrownUps, I will introduce you to these six memory skills, along with tips and techniques to sharpen and hone each for yourself.
Games are a popular way to exercise your memory and I have been enjoying the games on GrownUps. Today I played the Memory game, finding pairs of cards that display the same picture. This game relies on non-verbal memory, a type of memory very important in our day-to-day lives because it plays a vital role if all sorts of activities that you probably don’t even think about as relying on your memory skills. Actually, the first time you play this Memory game is the most effective test of non-verbal memory and here is why.
When you play the GrownUps Memory Game two or three times, do you find that it becomes harder to remember the placement of the pictures? This is caused by ‘interference’ – you have seen the pictures so often that your brain can’t recall whether the aeroplane was in the bottom right-hand corner on this game, or when you played a few minutes ago.
For non-verbal memory practice, it is best to play the game once or twice, and then go off and find another game to play to clear your mind. Then pop back to the Memory cards if you wish.
You need non-verbal memory for recognising objects, reading maps, understanding pictures and diagrams, remembering places you have been, recognising differences in, for instance, different types of flowers or trees, working out how different shapes fit together (keep working on those jigsaw puzzles!), learning a new route, and a myriad of other abilities.
Think about all your day-to-day activities for which you need non-verbal memory. Can you remember your first school classroom? Where the mat was situated? Where the teacher’s desk was? Where the coat hooks were? If so you used your non-verbal memory to build up a snapshot of the classroom. Isn’t it an astonishing ability?
Dr. Allison Lamont, founder and memory consultant at the Christchurch Memory Clinic. Allison’s ground-breaking research into memory in older, healthy adults has excited interest in many parts of the world.