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“I can’t find my keys!”

Boost your memory with Cedar Crest’s Memory Fitness class

Created date

March 20th, 2012

Ever find yourself in a panic because you can t find your keys? How about those times when you just can t remember someone s name? These common memory mishaps can happen to anyone at any age. To help enhance memory, Linda Ercoli, Ph.D., director of geriatric psychology service at UCLA Semel Institute, Resnick Hospital, and Gary Small, M.D., professor of psychiatry and bio-behavioral science and director of the UCLA Center on Aging and Memory, developed Memory Training. The classroom-based program taught by certified instructors provides tools and techniques to boost brain health.

Tools and techniques

Based onThe Memory Prescription: Dr. Gary Small s 14-Day Plan To Keep Your Brain and Body Young, the nationally recognized course is supported by a UCLA study that found the 14-day plan led to significant improvements in cognitive performance and brain efficiency. The course, taught in four- to six-week segments, focuses on four common problem areas: Forgetting names and faces Forgetting to do things in the future like keeping an appointment, passing on a phone message, or forgetting why you walked into a room Forgetting where you put things like keys, glasses, or a wallet Inability to immediately recall something you know or tip of the tongue memory challenges. Instructors teach techniques for preserving and improving memory. They also provide information on stress reduction techniques and the importance of physical fitness and healthy eating.

Local results

We cover more than just memory because all of those factors affect the brain and memory part of the brain, says Amy Wagener, certified Memory Training instructor and community resources lead coordinator atCedar Crest. Wagener has taught the class at the Erickson Living community in Pompton Plains, N.J., twice yearly for the past three years. At Cedar Crest, the class is called Memory Fitness. The course is for fully independent people to help preserve their memory and make it stronger. We thought it would be a good tool for our residents, Wagener says. And she was right. The six-week course has gained popularity, and Wagener hopes to offer it more than twice a year. I learned a lot about the importance of making lists, how to associate new ideas with something to spark a connection, and memory by association, says Lydia Gaines, who lives at Cedar Crest and took the class last October. I continue practicing techniques now that the class is over. Lydia moved to the community more than eight years ago and took the class because it seemed like a positive step toward confronting a loss of memory, she says. Though she says she s not sure how to measure memory improvement, she thought the course was well planned and integrated the whole person. Maureen Schan also took the course in October. It was a lot of common sense, but a lot of people our age don t practice after a while, she says of the memory techniques. Maureen says she would often panic over misplacing her keys or forgetting appointments. The course techniques, especially stress-relief methods and exercise, have helped relieve some of her anxiety. Living at Cedar Crest, Maureen takes advantage of the health-related activities and amenities the community offers, like the fitness and aquatics center. I go to the stretch-and-tone and exercise classes, Maureen says. But even if you can t do the classes, here you can walk a few miles indoors no matter what the weather is, because all the buildings are connected. So you can still get that exercise. Both Maureen and Lydia continue to practice the techniques they learned in class, like crossword puzzles, creating stories around lists, and staying organized. I ve really started to put some of the things we learned into practice, says Maureen.

Story method for memory fitness

Use the story method for practical, everyday tasks such as recalling a list of grocery items or errands. Try it now! For the list below, create a mental image for each word and make up a story to link the words together and remember them. Swimming pool Teddy Bear Fireplace Teacher Kitchen Apple Basketball Bottle Now, share your story and see how many words you remember. No peeking!