Senior Moments (07/18/07)

Dear Zelda,

I think I am starting to lose my memory. I seem to forget things, a lot! I do pretty well with appointments and meetings, but sometimes I'll do something and totally forget that I have done it! Fortunately I haven't forgotten my name or where I live, but I think it might happen. The things I forget seem to be little detail kind of things. Do you have any tricks to help you remember?
 
What's My Name and Where Are My Keys?
 
Dear What’s Your Name,
 
Getting old isn’t easy. In fact it’s downright tough. I should know because at my age (in dog years) I’m so far beyond prime that there isn’t even a category for my age group. I’ve simply surpassed ‘senior.’ The good news, though, is that the more senior you get, the more  likely you are to win a Gold Medal in whatever competition you show up for. The last dog event I entered, I was the only senior dog to sign up. It was a blue-ribbon day for me and I didn’t even have to smile or wear a swimsuit. Haute dog!!!
 
But now what was it you were asking? Ah yes, tips for helping you remember not to put the dry cereal in the refrigerator and the ice cream in the pantry. Actually this is a topic that’s very important to me personally, and I’ve done some research on the subject and have put together my list of helpful hints for us grays on trays.
 
For the most part it’s our recent memory that is affected by aging.  It happens to all of us to some degree, and actually it doesn’t take much to help keep us sharp. So let’s start with some simple things like making lists. Lists are a great way of remembering what you have to do and when. Page-a-day calendars work wonders for shopping lists, appointments and reminders. As you get older, it’s helpful to become more deliberate and organized in the things you do; keeping notes and lists is a good way to start.
 
Then there’s my ‘use it or lose it’ rule. Our brains are like muscles in that the more you use your brain the stronger it gets, and the stronger it stays. Read the newspaper. Then work on and complete the crossword puzzle or jumble. There is even a board game called Senior Moments Board Game that is both fun and challenging. (available on amazon.com) Try learning new things: go on adventurous vacations, take a class or read a book about something that has always interested you, even if it sounds scary or intimidating at first. My owner keeps encouraging me to sign up for a new obedience class… “NO!”  But a cooking class would catch my fancy. You can also switch the television channel to PBS. Thoughtful television programming will do more for your memory than any sitcom could. It’s important that we stretch our minds around new ideas and new experiences.
 
Exercise is a great way to both stay in shape and maintain brain power. The brain requires a healthy blood supply to work, and a hearty heart combined with low blood pressure are incredibly important factors in preserving brain power. You can ‘work-out’ your brain while you ‘work-out’ your body: it has been proven that listening to music or a book on tape while you exercise will increase your verbal fluency. Try taking walks in areas you’ve never been before and concentrate on the new things you see. This will serve as a healthy wake-up call for your brain. But don’t forget to take along a map and your cell phone…just in case you, well, forget where you are.
 
Now on to my favorite tricks for maintaining a healthy memory: FOOD. I love the researchers who found that one glass of red wine a day can potentially help stave off Alzheimer’s. They also suggest that a little dose of daily chocolate is good and that we eat a bowl of cereal with some blueberries for breakfast. Again, those busy researchers found that eating cereal topped with blueberries will boost the enzymes that help brain cells communicate with each other. Remember that the brain relies on glucose for fuel, so make sure you’re getting your carbs from fruits, vegetables and whole grains…not from cake, candy or ice cream. (sorry!)  My other brain food trick is that you make up a batch of tuna salad and snack on it throughout the week. Tuna is high in omega-3 fatty acids which are supposed to be important for maintaining memory.
 
My final tip to train your brain is that you add a B-complex vitamin pill to your daily ‘to do’ list. Vitamin B is critical for keeping your mind sharp and it helps lower levels of homocysteine, which can be linked to memory loss. Also taking both Vitamin C and E together is said to help protect against Alzheimer’s.
 
Still, don’t get too overexcited about your memory meltdowns. For the most part they are an inevitable part of life and have more to do with stress and with our crazy overloaded schedules. Relax and enjoy life, and try not to lose too much sleep over losing the keys. Just remember the old saying about senior moments: don’t worry if you forget your keys; only if you forget what your keys are for. We all forget things sometimes. When you do… laugh and admit that maybe you’re not perfect, but at least you can be happy.
 
Zelda
 
Dear Zelda,
 
Recently I read an article in the Houston Chronicle called Pets’ Meals on Wheels give seniors helping of support, by Melanie Markley (July 9, 2007). I wish you would share this information with your readers. AniMeals is such a great idea. Thanks,
 
A Senior Needing Food for Her Four-Legged Friend
 
Dear Senior,
 
We followed your recommendation to read the article in the Houston Chronicle and we agree.  AniMeals is a wonderful and very important service! We were so convinced that we’re attaching a link to the original Houston Chronicle article here.  We hope that many of you will get in touch with your local Meals on Wheels organization and ask them to consider adding AniMeals to their programs. Just click on this link to read the article.
 
Thanks for the great suggestion! Lots of licks and wags,

Zelda

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