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How to keep your memory sharp as you age

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This is a blog on a recent Memory Education class from UCLA Longevity Center’s  Brain Boot Camp.


The Brain Boot Camp is a 90 minute course that offers individualized healthy aging lifestyle programs, tips for a healthy heart and brain diet, and advanced memory techniques for learning and recalling names and other common memory challenges.

I have reported in an earlier blog on UCLA Longevity Center’s brain and memory classes.  Please see my blog entitled “Memory Exercises for the Brain” where I covered how to improve memory by associating names with prominent facial features.



Sensory Memory
A brief sensory record
5 to 7 chunks of information capacity, such as a telephone number

Primary Memory
Ability to keep information in conscious mind

Secondary Memory
Ability to learn and later recall information

(Secondary Memory is most vulnerable to the effects of aging – the ability to RECALL is affected)
Age-related effects are relatively small
There is a 10% decline per decade beginning in midlife

Therefore it behooves us to strengthen our Secondary Memory, our ability to learn and later recall information

Tertiary Memory
remote memories, i.e., childhood memories


How do you strengthen your Secondary memory?
Strategies for increasing our ability to recall
We can do this by doing the following memory training techniques (these are the basics of memory training)
Paying attention
Noticing information from all your senses
Make information meaningful by using imagery
Make it personally relevant by associating with what you already know
Organize and chunk information


Creating a New Memory (encoding, registration)
Here are some Strategies to help improve your ability to create a new memory:

Coding – registration
Improve your ability to learn by repetition (pay attention, want to remember).  Example:  when you encounter someone or something for the first time, pay attention, make a conscious effort to remember it.  Use all five senses to strengthen the memory.  What does something look like?  Smell like?  Sound like?

Rehearsal and Consolidation – repetition and transfer: Repeat the new information a few times, indicating a desire to remember the new information.  Example:  you meet your new neighbor Harry.  Repetition:  repeat the name “Harry” a few times, in the conversation.

Storage – retention:  Associate the new memory with something known to you.  Organize and chunk information.   Organizing information with something you already know is a good help to remembering and recalling.  For example:
Organize:  Associate your new neighbor Harry with your Uncle Harry.
Organize:  Sentences, rhymes, saying:  I’d never marry my neighbor Harry.
Organize:  Harry sounds like “hairy”.
Images:  Picture neighbor Harry shaking hands with Uncle Harry, with lot of hair (“hairy”).

In other words, store this memory in a place where you can later retrieve it (you do this by associating the memory with other details, something you already know).


More Recall Strategies:
The Chunking Method
An aid to remembering lists:  An example:  to remember the words Toaster, Sports car, Eagle, Microwave, Text messages, Airplane, Robin, Email, Yacht, Blender, Letter,  Ostrich:

Chunk items into three lists:  appliances, birds, modes of transportation
Associate all appliances together:  toaster, microwave, blender
Associate all birds together:  eagle, robin, ostrich
Associate all modes of transportation together:  sports car, airplane, yacht


A word about multitasking
As we age, it becomes more difficult to multitask.
Fact:  There is a link between “senior moments”, multitasking and working memory.
Fact:  Multitasking has  a negative effect on working memory.
Fact:  As we age we have a more difficult time letting go of distractions and regaining our ability to focus on the original task at hand.
In the current digital era, we are pushing the limits with multitasking
Only focus on one thing at a time


I hope you have enjoyed this blog on memory techniques by UCLA Longevity Center.


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Comments (8) on "How to keep your memory sharp as you age"

  1. Great article. Sounds like really good training too. It’s so important to keep our memory intact as we age!

  2. Hello there, thanks a lot for sharing this beautiful piece of information here with us. I must say i really did enjoyed going through your review as it contains valuable informations one needs to be aware of. Food is the way of life for me ao i will be looking at some of your recipe and use for cooking 

  3. This is a very valuable article rich in information that can be very beneficial if well understood and implemented in one’s life. Thanks for these tips on how to have a very sharp memory. Having a sharp memory is of great advantage as one can easily remember and recall things. It is great to get to know these tips. I will definitely use them.

  4. There is something that makes someone very smart, that is the ability of the person to be able to remember things in his or her brain. When the person has a sharp memory. Sometimes people tend to get sharper when they are younger, but then it would be nice to still be sharp and smart as you age along, that is why the boot camp course is necessary for everyone.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Maureen.  Yes, I agree with you that it’s good to still be sharp and smart as you age.

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