Have you ever searched for your eyeglasses only to find them perched on top of your head? Or looked for your keys and discovered them still in the front door?
Many of us have experienced a momentary lapse in memory. Someone dubbed these occurrences “senior moments.” They can also spell something far more serious. Yet not every senior moment heralds the onslaught of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
You hear a song on the radio and no announcer telling you the name of the piece. You can’t think of the title to save your soul. And yet when you aren’t even trying to recall it, it pops into your head.
A president and other public figures, even the younger ones, sometimes have lapses, saying things like “57 states” when he knows full well there are only 50.
It is a bit more troubling, though, when we are seniors. Those around us might smile and wink at each other and nod as if to say, “What do you expect?” When we are younger, we just laugh them off.
I find that some simple tricks help me keep my mind alive and functioning. Word association or events help me remember things. My mother had a great memory and she used to use two events to help her remember something. Like she’d say, “We bought our first refrigerator when so-and-so died.” In so doing, she remembered the date for both events.
While in grade school, we learned how to spell “a-r-i-t-h-m-e-t-i-c” by remembering the phrase “a rat in the house might eat the ice cream.” By using the first letter of each word, it was easy to remember how to spell it. “G-e-o-g-r-a-p-h-y”? That one was learned by saying “George Earnest’s old grandpa rode a pig home yesterday.” My favorite way to remember the names of the nine planets is to say: My very erudite mother just served us nine pizzas (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto).
Acronyms are very helpful too. Can you name the Great Lakes? “HOMES” (translates to Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior).
You might memorize a favorite poem as a mental exercise.
I’m no medical expert, but I do believe in challenging my thinking process in various ways, working crossword puzzles and watching shows like “Jeopardy.”