As worried as I am about my physical state of being, I have to admit that I worry equally about memory loss. Like everyone, I forget the occasional name or place or appointment or child, etcetera. Lately, however, I’ve wondered if I should be more concerned.
For example, we all forget where we parked the car, right? Not all the time of course, but sometimes that’s normal, right?
I worry, though, when I come trotting out of Broulim’s grocery store and just as I roll my cart onto the pavement, I realize that I have absolutely no recollection of even parking the darn car. I don’t know what quadrant, what longitude or latitude I should even be considering. It’s as if I was dropped off by flying monkeys whilst I was sleeping.
I’ve developed a location strategy that does seem to work. I simply stride confidently right up the center of the lot pretending to be a woman in complete command of her mental faculties. Behind my sunglasses, my eyes scan for a familiar luggage rack or my trademark dirty rear window as I surreptitiously click my remote door opener and listen for a honk.
It’s no surprise, then, that I was front and center for a recent workshop about Memory Loss taught by Carol Taylor, MSW and counselor at St. John’s Institute for Cognitive Health. Carol discussed the varying levels of memory loss; when it’s normal and when it may be cause for concern. There’s normal memory loss, mild memory impairment, and dementia. Alzheimer’s disease falls under the dementia category and it was interesting to learn that there are upwards of 80 health issues that are considered forms of dementia and that many are treatable.
It was a relief to self-diagnose myself as having normal memory loss immediately after Carol told everyone that stress and multitasking can affect our ability to recall. My goodness, that was an easy fix. Then she answered the question that was on everyone’s mind: How can we retain good memory health?
- Don’t smoke or drink a lot of alcohol.
- Learn a new skill: take up a musical instrument, learn a new language, etc.
- Exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 times per week.
- Make healthy nutritional choices.
- Surround yourself with caring friends and family.
As I left the workshop and scoured the parking lot for my car, I was struck by the similarities between retaining good mental and physical health: exercise, eat wisely, keep learning new things and make time for friends and family. If I continue making good choices for myself, I’ll benefit all the way around.
Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.