January 28th, 2011 at 3:06 am
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Memory fitness plan for senior centers

by Kathryn Kilpatrick, M.A. CCC/SLP

Senior centers are an excellent community resource and attract a wide variety of older adults who are interested in staying active and informed. With the changes in memory associated with normal aging, programs to support brain health and education about the components of successful aging attract seniors of all ages.

Several years ago a local senior center decided to present a series of programs related to memory fitness. After listening to older adults for decades about memory concerns, the series I created started with an overview of how to walk the path to memory fitness. Frequently older adults have operated out of fear with regard to any changes in memory. With over forty years working with older adults, I found it helpful to start this program explaining the basics about memory including reversible causes, current research, and the changes with normal aging.

It was followed by how a positive attitude supports brain health, as well as the importance of incorporating humor into daily routines. The series concluded with specific tips for upgrading memory fitness routines. This program led to the creation of a monthly memory club. One of the things this group felt would be helpful was to share some of the things they did to remember. Here are some of their suggestions. Perhaps there are some you have already used. Try something new.

One of the things I have notice personally and professionally is the reluctance to use the words Alzheimer’s disease. People seem more comfortable referring to any increased memory loss beyond normal aging as dementia. My goal is to help people understand what these terms mean. Sometimes a person who needs a further assessment is not proactive because of a lack of understanding. I am so pleased when older adults shares that now they have less fear with the information they received. Understanding some of the basics, including the reversible causes of memory loss, can go a long way in helping seniors of all ages ask better questions of health care professionals. An important part of the program is sharing examples of the patients I have evaluated and treated. When people learn that specific strategies and recommendations for changes in lifestyle choices can be helpful, they may feel more hopeful.

Perhaps your senior center is already providing these types of programs. Pass along this information on how to create a 7 day memory fitness program or create your own with some friends.

Monday Create a positive mindset. Attitude matters.
Tuesday Improve your ability to pay attention. Be in the present moment.
Wednesday Upgrade your lifestyle choices. Better choices can improve your focus.
Thursday Develop effective memory props.
Friday Socialize and stay connected with others.
Saturday Incorporate new ways to challenge your brain.
Sunday Create a better balance in your life.

The important thing is to not complain about your memory but get the facts and learn what you can do. The key to change is awareness so discuss your interest in programs that meet your needs and those of the senior center.

“Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.” Henry L. Doherty

Posted in Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Health | 1 Comment »

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