Memory and Focus

Many people have problems with memory and focus as they age.  Whether the problems are the beginning stages of dementia or just a lack of focus, the following exercise can help to ensure that aging has less power to rob you of precious memories.  In addition, this exercise provides a possible solution for insomnia.

1.  Focus on the events of the day in order from arising in the morning until you go to sleep. The good news is that you will fall asleep long before you reach the end of the day.

2.  During the process, visualize each step of the day.  The process should include all activities, conversations, thoughts and individuals met during the day.  It might be seen as a video recording of the day played back only in your brain.  Focus on details.

3.  Initially, the mind video will be playing in fast forward.  It will be difficult to pick out the small details such as thinking over your today list or looking in the mirror while brushing one’s teeth.  In addition, scenes may jump out of sequence from morning to afternoon and then back to getting out of bed.  However, your goal is to play the video in sequence.

4.  As you continue the exercise several days in a row, you should begin to see some differences.  That which was once a just big chunk of time will begin to develop into fully visualized scenes, which include people, conversations, room decor, signs and thoughts.  Details will become clearer.

5.  It should become a daily challenge to remember more of the day.  You will become more aware of the things you normally would have done without much thought.  Since you know you must recall, your focus changes.  You are using brain cells not previously harnessed.  While the nighttime exercises may be a cure for insomnia, the daytime exercises help you to focus, improve your memory, and lower the chances of developing dementia.

By improving one’s daytime focus and recalling events of the day, it is possible for people to avoid memory loss and dementia.  Additionally, these activities can help with insomnia.

The ideas in this article are adapted from a blog on how to become a better chess player, but certainly seem appropriate for anyone concerned with dementia and having problems with memory and focus.


Nancy Nicholson

Today’s poignant blog post is written by Nancy Nicholson, LBSW, author of Help! What Do I Do Now? Caring for Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s. She writes about Alzheimer’s and caregiving on her website: Nancy shares with us part of why she wrote the book.

Making Invisible Alzheimer’s Patients Visible

Our friends had stopped by to visit. We didn’t get much company living out on the ranch anyway, but since Dad’s Alzheimer’s disease (AD) diagnosis, visits were even fewer. The guests, who lived only about a mile away, had been friends and co-workers for more than a quarter of a century—she had worked with Mom and he had worked with Dad. Mom welcomed them in, and we all took seats in the living room. There were the “how are you doing?” and “long time no see” exchanges. Then an uncomfortable silence set in. The couple sat facing Mom and me, and the few words they spoke were directed to us. They did not address Dad directly and appeared uneasy and never tried to include him in the conversation. Their visit was short, and, honestly, I believe very uncomfortable for everyone. Dad had seemed excited about the prospect of visitors, but as they drove away, he turned and walked back to the bedroom with shoulders slumped.

This is just one of many experiences that had a profound effect on me while caring for Dad. I was angry at his so-called friends for basically ignoring him. He was still a person and could still participate in conversations even if he was slow to answer or occasionally misunderstood what was said. I had thought that a visit from old friends would be good for him, but at the end, he seemed sad. I could only imagine what he was thinking.

Through the seven years we cared for Dad with this devastating disease, it seemed that often he was invisible to other people. He was treated as if he wasn’t a person, as if he had no value, as if he wasn’t even there anymore. During that time, I resolved that I would make it my vocation to help make life easier for those afflicted with the disease and to help other people to see AD-afflicted patients as human beings with emotions and value. I went on to get my degree in social work and worked in long term care facilities as a social worker. Currently I am a social services consultant to nursing homes. Training staff members is one of my primary duties, and I especially enjoy training people about caring for dementia patients. I want to make them understand that someone with AD is still a person with feelings and a need to be included.

I also see a lack of knowledge among caregivers. Almost everything my family and I learned about caring for Dad came through trial and error. I’ve seen so many “errors” made by well-intentioned, caring family members who simply don’t know how to deal with their loved one. The relationship has totally changed, and they may feel the patient is no longer the person they know and love. That’s why I wrote Help! What Do I Do Now? Caring for Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s. It’s a short guide with lots of examples and tips for specific situations. Most of all, though, I want to encourage family members to continue to relate to their loved one, to remember he is still the same person inside even if the disease has camouflaged that person, and to make the best of the journey they are on together.

Click here to order Help! What Do I Do Now? Caring for Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s from Amazon (print and Kindle) or here to order from Smashwords (ebook format). Bulk orders: support groups or families who need 10 or more copies can order at a discount; click here.

Nancy is also the sister of editor and writer, Lillie Ammann, who writes, and was last cited in this blog here.

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Now that the holiday season is in full swing, what should be a joyous time for all can be an especially challenging for a person with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and their families. According to Dr. Stephen Moelter, associate professor of psychology at University of the Sciences, family members may not know how to react to a person who often repeats the same thing, is confused, or does not recognize the family member.

In order to engage a person with Alzheimer’s disease, he makes the following suggestions:

  1. Family members need to educate themselves about AD and the importance of supporting their loved ones and keeping them safe. There are many resources at the Alzheimer’s Association’s Web site,
  2. Engaging the person in conversation and keeping them involved in activities is paramount to their health. It should be at their level and it is preferable to let them lead. Keep your tone positive and it is preferable not to challenge a person with AD. That my lead to increased anxiety and confusion. A memory test will not help the situation.
  3. Ask questions about the distant past such as how they spent their holidays as a child  rather than how they spent their holidays as an adult. Encourage reminiscing.
  4. Parents can help their children by giving suggestions to their children of topics to talk about such as hobbies, jobs, or family events. Younger children should be given permission to keep the conversations brief. It is very difficult for children to comprehend Alzheimer’s disease.

You can read the entire article at Medical News Today. Click here. Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a memorable holiday season.