Jo gging That
Memory seminar gives recall a workout.
RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER
Above: Jerri Litt
offered tips on
Right: Rose Ann
ose Ann Swerdlen remembers a time in life
when she could answer her schoolteach-
ers' questions before they had a chance to
With age, Ms. Swercllen and her friend,
Rita Levitt, notice they draw blanks some-
times. Their recall and response abilities
aren't quite as sharp as they once were.
The women, both from Oak Park, re-
cently attended a seminar on memory im-
provement, sponsored in November by William
Beaumont Hospital's older-adult services de-
"Memory doesn't have to change, and as we
age, we can use techniques to improve our
memory through training and practice," said
Kristine Rutkowski, a certified speech and lan-
guage pathologist at Beaumont.
Ms. Rutkowski and certified social worker
Jerri Litt, Beaumont's senior informational
specialist, led the two-hour presentation. The
women discussed how memory works and
ways to make it function better.
Memory has three phases, they said. In
the first phase, called sensory memory, the
senses take in elements around us, and the
brain registers that information. This often
takes place on a subconscious not paying full attention to what is going on,"
Ms. Litt said.
Inactivity is another reason people forget.
The second phase is short-
term memory, which holds an Memories need to be relived and revived. Ms.
average of seven elements for Litt recommends that older adults, even if
approximately five to 10 sec- they're retired, pursue an activity that keeps
onds at a time. Long-term their minds active.
There might be a medical reason for seri-
memory is the third phase. It
contains everything we know, ous cases of memory loss. Vitamin B-12 defi-
said Ms. Rutkowski and Ms. ciency, otherwise known as pernicious anemia,
Litt. — might be a culprit. So might Alzheimer's dis-
The problem for many older ease. Ms. Rutkowski and Ms. Litt said that for
people is retrieving information people concerned about more than a little for-
that has been stored in the getfulness, it's best to seek a physician's opin-
long-term memory and bring- ion. ❑
ing it into conscious thought.
The memory works ac-
cording to associations.
New information general-
ly reminds us of something
At the Beaumont-sponsored memory seminar
else we've stored in our
brain. Ms. Rutkowski and Nov, 14, attendees received the following point-
Litt suggested assigning ers.
descriptive terms to the If You Lose Your Train Of Thought
•Stop and think what you want to say. Pre-
facts we need to remember.
For instance, at a party you are intro-
•Speak in short sentences.
duced to a red-haired man named Robert.
•Do not talk around the subject. Speak to the
One way to retain his name in your head
is to: 1) Repeat it back to him. "It's nice
Word Retrieval Techniques
to meet you, Robert."
•Use gestures to help recall the word.
Another way is to: 2) Assign a descrip-
• Use a brief delay time to help you thim', of
tive nickname that seems appropriate,
like "Red" Robert.
•Describe the word.
Yet another memory-maximizing strat-
•Think of the opposite of the word.
egy is talking out loud.
•Use another word that means the same thing.
"It works for me," said Ms. Litt. "It's
helpful for me to say, 'Today is Tuesday. How To Remember Names
•Be sure to get the name correct.
I've just unplugged the coffee pot."'
•Write it down if poiiitite.
Writing notes to oneself on Post-It notes
•Repeat the name in initoduction and use in
might help. Environmental clues, such as
putting day-old garbage by the door you
• Observe the face and appearance and
exit in the morning, also can serve as re-
associate the name with a personal feature
(i.e. Morris has a mustache).
The trick is to act just as soon as you re-
•Create an image (i.e. a cane for Mr. Kanar).
member to do so. Procrastinate, and you
When Learning Something New
risk forgetting your memory aide.
•Allow yourself extra time. Pre-plan.
Several factors contribute to what might
• Learn only one thing at a time.
seem like memory loss in older adults. Vi-
•Learn in small parts.
sion and hearing problems often hamper
•Relate to old information.
a person's ability to pick up on informa-
•Use all of Your senses. Say it aloud, wri
tion, much less remember it. Depression.
touch it, taste it.
Medication. Stress. Fatigue. Distractions.
"Much of what is called forgetting is just