January 8th, 2011 at 7:29 am
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Memory fitness plan: Improve your ability to pay attention

by Kathryn Kilpatrick, M.A. CCC/SLP

Paying attention is essential to the recall of information. If the information does not register, how can you expect to retrieve it later? Day 2 of the memory fitness plan emphasizes being in the present moment, not thinking of what just happened or something you need to do next.

How often have you had something in your hand then you shifted your focus or were distracted? Perhaps you picked up the phone then put down the piece of paper you were holding while you started looking for some other information. Minutes later you are wondering what happened to the item that was in your hand. And the time consuming search begins. Frustrating, isn’t it?

Recently a set of my car keys just disappeared and none of us are sure how that could have happened since I was only in a few places in a small area for a short period of time. Obviously my mind was jumping from one thing to another as we rushed to get out of the house to attend a concert. Until I got another key made, I became very focused on making sure I always paid attention to where I put my only set of keys. I was determined not to lose them. I did not have a senior moment. It is more likely it was a moment of not paying attention.

What are you supposed to pay attention to? Pay attention to whatever it is that you are doing at the moment. Notice if you are giving what you are doing your full attention. You cannot remember without effort. That means repeat the information, visualize it, or write it down with details. You need to do this for 5 – 10 seconds. It is longer than you think!

Here is another very important fact. If you are under stress, feeling anxious or depressed, you are less likely to recall important information shortly after it is heard. That is when you need to use additional memory props and verify any details. If you have an important appointment that is going to cover a lot of specifics, such as when you are meeting with a doctor, a lawyer or a financial advisor, consider bringing someone along to write down the information for you.

Paying attention can improve more than your memory. It can help to lessen your stress level, and improve your personal safety. If you have a hearing loss, the situation gets more complicated. It is important to ask someone to repeat what was said or verify the information in order to remember.

How curious are you? One of the best ways to improve your attention is to ask questions, look up more information, or explain the details to another person. Try doing that on day 2 of your memory fitness plan. Here is another exercise to try. Visit a place you frequently enjoy. But this time, really notice things such as the people, sounds and what appeals to you the most. Perhaps you are noticing some things for the first time. For details on the 7 day program, refer to Create a Memory Fitness Plan.

“Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.” Jim Rohn

Posted in Health, Other, Stress | 2 Comments »

2 Comments to “Memory fitness plan: Improve your ability to pay attention”

  1. Kathryn Kilpatrick, M.A. CCC/SLP


    Thanks for your feedback and comments. You are certainly taking your previous work experience and applying it in your CNA position. Your residents are very fortunate to have you presenting the types of activites you mentioned with the strategy of repetition. Continued success! Kathy

  2. Excellent suggestions. I realized years ago-while waitressign!-that repeating orders made sure I understood and kept mistakes to a minimum. Now that I am a CNA, I ask my clients questions. We disscuss what’s on TV-usually something from the History, Animal or National Geographic channel. By discussing, we are making sure the information is being received and retained. I mention something about the programs the next day to jump start a new discussion. It’s amazing how much we retain simply by talking about it. My clients are happier and more relaxed.

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