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Remember mastering the order of the colors of the rainbow in elementary school? A lot of us were introduced to Roy G. Biv to master this feat – one of many mnemonics we learn that, remarkably, often stay with us for a lifetime. Even as we grow older, research is showing how effective techniques like this can be to improve senior memory.

As we age, some degree of memory impairment will be anticipated; and naturally it is much more pronounced when Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia is a factor. Scientists are continuously seeking to identify effective strategies to improve memory and cognitive functioning, and have uncovered some interesting findings on “old school” strategies such as mnemonics. Here is what they’ve recently uncovered:

Mnemonics

Mnemonics provides an association to a memory through a song, phrase, abbreviation, etc. This type of training revealed noteworthy results in increasing activity in areas of the brain which are typically impacted by dementia, resulting in improved retention of information.

There are unlimited mnemonic strategies that are really effective in improving memory. As an example, try mnemonic keywords. They are an enjoyable and creative way to memorize words in a different language. This involves choosing a word that is similar to the new word you wish to learn, and visualizing a picture that brings the two words together. For instance, if you’re wanting to remember that chapeau is French for the word “hat,” you could picture Charlie Chaplin along with his infamous black hat. The “Chap” part of his name can trigger the initial letters in chapeau, and the memory will stick.

Spaced Retrieval Training

This tactic involves slowly increasing the amount of time between memory tests, and was found to also be highly successful for people with Alzheimer's. As compared to mnemonics, however, there was actually a decrease in brain activity, leading researchers to ascertain that the information had been processed more efficiently.

Spaced retrieval training is highly useful for improving independence and minimizing anxiety for those with cognitive challenges. Choose a desired activity or event for the person to remember, like a lunch date with a friend on Friday. First ask the person a question to ascertain whether the memory is already in place. If not, remind them that they are having lunch with Julia on Friday. Wait 15 seconds, and ask the person the question again. If the memory is in place now, increase the time to 30 seconds, and inquire again, continuing to double the time and ask again. If the person doesn't remember after 15 seconds, keep repeating the procedure every 15 seconds several more times before determining that this is simply not an effective technique, at least not for this particular event or activity.

Both tactics are simple, drug-free approaches to incorporate into the treatment plan for someone during the early stages of dementia, or for anyone who is searching for ways to improve senior memory.

Let Help at Home Senior Care, the experts in respite care in Lincoln, CA and nearby areas, provide further support and resources for someone you love with dementia. Our creative techniques to care help make the most of a senior’s cognitive functioning, independence, and wellbeing. Contact us at (530) 885-7444 to get more information.

Nowadays, music is more available than ever before. For those who carry smartphones or tablets with them wherever they go, hundreds of thousands – if not tens of millions of songs – are merely a few taps or finger swipes away. If you're a caregiver for an older adult, your smartphone may become one of the most practical tools in your possession when you learn about the benefits of music for seniors. This viral video clip from the Alive Inside documentary shows just how incredibly effective music can be for older adults with restricted capabilities and dementia.

Bringing Joy

With massive musical libraries readily available from places like iTunes, Pandora, Amazon Music, Spotify, and plenty of others, we can now find music, in many cases at no charge, in a variety of genres in mere seconds. Caregivers can find out what kinds of music the older adult liked earlier in his or her lifetime. The music a senior prefers may be related to a particular period of time, such as Big Band music, or it might be unique to his or her religious beliefs, such as gospel or hymns, for example. The type of music enjoyed throughout one’s life might also hinge on the person’s ethnic background – like those who prefer reggae or salsa. The senior may also have enjoyed classic favorites like jazz, blues, classical, country, and so forth. No matter the musical preference, access to music could have amazing advantages.

Connecting With Memories

Did you ever listen to a song on the radio and have it transport you back to a specific time in your life? Research has uncovered that music is clearly linked to personal memories. The human brain is actually hard-wired to link music with long-term memories. This is the case even for those with moderate to severe dementia.

Music & Memory is a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of seniors through digital music technology, greatly improving quality of life. The staff at Music & Memory train caregivers for seniors and family members on how to develop and use individualized playlists with digital devices to allow older adults who have dementia and other challenges to reconnect with the world through memories from music.

Reducing Anxiety Levels

Research has also uncovered that hearing music that is familiar and well-loved can assist in reducing anxiety levels and increase focus on the present timeframe, which in turn helps the elderly with dementia to connect to those around them.

At Help at Home Senior Care, our objective is always to enhance the quality of life for seniors through our creative dementia home care services and support. And, we go the extra mile when it comes to the small things that can bring joy to the days of those we serve – such as through music and other creative activities. Call us today at (530) 885-7444 to learn more about our in-home care in Roseville, CA and nearby areas.

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