Your Memory: How It Works And How To Improve It By Means Of Healthier Social Contact


This is an article about your memory: how it works and how to improve it.  Investigation more and more often informs us that more social
engagement delays memory loss as we get older. This is not unexpected
because relating to other people exercises the memory at many levels. As
we know more about how memory works we appreciate that earlier
experiences are steadily being called up and assembled with current
perceptions and thoughts. When the resulting associations are themselves
stored for future use, the memory is enhanced.That is why solid
social interplay with friends, family and community members can enrich
our brain health as we grow older. It also reinforces the insight that
social detachment is a key risk factor for mental and emotional
deterioration for seniors. Recently the Harvard School of Public Health
investigated measurements from the Health And Retirement Study which
observed adults who were 50 years old or more. The subjects of the study
worked on memory tests every two years. The researchers also measured
the social interaction of study participants based on marital status,
volunteer activities and contact with parents, children and neighbors.
The findings showed that persons in their 50s and 60s who had a good
amount of social activity also had the slowest rate of memory loss. In
fact, when they were compared to folks who were the least socially
active, those who had the highest socialization scores had less than
half the rate of memory loss.When our aging acquaintances say,
“I really want to know how to improve my memory,” it is easy for us to
tell them to get out of the house as often as possible. Significantly,
the high importance of social interaction occurs at a season of life
when they are most defenseless to isolation. Deteriorating health,
shrinking traditional support systems, the growing independence of
younger children and relatives and cynical expectations about aging
blend to bring about loneliness and depression, which lead to
accelerating health decline, and so forth. This is not necessary.Those
who are dealing with these symptoms of aging are the least capable of
helping themselves to escape from of the cycles that are robbing them of
the potential for a splendid quality of existence. It is critically
important that those who care for and about them intercede, if
necessary, to suspend the cycle of aging, isolation, depression and
physical decline. This is not always easy in a society that values
autonomy and non-interference. However, if we are interested in our
aging population we must accept that they are not as independent as they
were, or as they think they are, or as they would like to be. We must
find more creative ways to help them sustain their socialization
opportunities and, thus, their memories. There are many ways to address
the problems of aging and memory. Technology is one such means, and
public resources can provide many others. Nonetheless, it is likely to
be up to those of us who owe them so much to pay it back by gently
pushing them back into society when we see them wandering away.For more information on this and other topics of interest to senior
citizens, see our website Going Strong Seniors!
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Charles Parker is a teacher and writer. He specializes in the psychology of aging. He is dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life for seniors by means of memory enhancement, improved health, technology and having fun. He has taught at every education level from kindergarten to university, including designing and teaching computer and Internet classes for seniors citizens.