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Thread: Memory

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Memory

    Some say that memory is the most valuable commodity in the world. The ability to remember is what makes us who we are, allows us to change and adapt, and overall all allows us to function. How is your memory? Do you do anything to improve your memory? What do you think harms your memory? What would it be like to remember everything? These are the questions that helps make a person who they are.

    For me, I am lucky that I have a very good memory for things that I read and things that I hear. But when it comes to seeing an event, I am more likely to remember the sounds and smells, but not the actual event. This is why I spend most of my time reading books and listening to books on tape when I am in the car.

    What about you? How does your memory work?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    I don't remember, sorry.
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

  3. #3
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Man, I had a really great post devised in my head but can't quite put my finger on what I was going to say.

    I hear acai berries fight memory loss (and cure the ague)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Four years ago my older brother, now 68, started to show signs of dementia. Within a year he was, for all wants and purposes, "gone".....living in a wheelchair in a rest home, never talking, not knowing anybody, even his family. I feel like my brother died three years ago. And I worry that it could happen to me.

    Thinking about memory loss every day I try to play word games or solve math problems (in my head) as each day motors on. I have always understood that you can slow or stop excessive memory loss by forcing yourself to use your memory. Believe it or not, I am convinced that my giant fake city (De Noc) helps me use my memory, sharpen my thinking, yadda.

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus
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    How does what work ?
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North View post
    Four years ago my older brother, now 68, started to show signs of dementia. Within a year he was, for all wants and purposes, "gone".....living in a wheelchair in a rest home, never talking, not knowing anybody, even his family. I feel like my brother died three years ago. And I worry that it could happen to me.

    Thinking about memory loss every day I try to play word games or solve math problems (in my head) as each day motors on. I have always understood that you can slow or stop excessive memory loss by forcing yourself to use your memory. Believe it or not, I am convinced that my giant fake city (De Noc) helps me use my memory, sharpen my thinking, yadda.

    Bear
    I think you are correct about De Noc. There are several studies that have shown that long term memory related activities like that can help retain memory.

    I wonder if watching TV have the opposite effect?
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I've always had a good memory, nearly "photographic" in some instances when I pay attention (that's the operative phrase here, "pay attention") -- or when it's traumatic enough ( I have vivid memories of the details of my 1989 rollover accident that I can still summon at will but at least they don't flash back whenever I take a left curve at speed like they used to). The result of "paying attention" is that I frequently remember weird bits of trivia especially historic, scientific or sports (subjects that I enjoy) that I've read about or seen in a TV show, which always gives me a great edge in any kind of trivia game.

    Unfortunately, common every day things, I forget. If I have to pick someone up on the way to work, I have to tape a reminder to the steering wheel. Yesterday, I had to turn around and return home to get something I was supposed to take to my friend's. If Outlook doesn't tell me that I have a meeting/appointment tomorrow or in a hour or in fifteen minutes, I won't be there. I think this is part of "paying attention", too; I always seem to remember certain things like I'm going to hockey games this Friday and Saturday or that our unit "holiday party" is next Thursday.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    My memory doesn't seem as detailed oriented as many people's. I can always tell you the gist of what happened but I'm not able to embellish the details like some people. It's not that I don't remember the details, they just don't stand out to me when I'm recalling an event.

    Anyway, I don't really do anything in particular to maintain or improve my memory. I do recognize the benefits of keeping stress under control when it comes to memory though. Actually having to deal with that now with my mom. She suffers from severe stress and anxiety issues that are significantly effecting her short term memory. It's extremely frustrating to deal with since she isn't willing to admit she has a problem.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    My grandmother died after 15 years with dementia and now my father is at about 7-10 years in (you can never tell when it really begins). The situation is very much like the Bear's brother - he cannot do any of his Acts of Daily Living and spends most time in a wheelchair unable to do anything - he can barely see as he is in a perpetual squint and can't really speak either. He actually gets great care, but toward what end? QoL is pretty damn low. What is difficult for me to figure out is the degree to which he is aware of his surroundings and unable to say or do anything in response (vocalizing is very difficult for him) or if there just isn't much going on in there at this point. He does know my brother and I, but that's about it. At least as far as I can tell.

    So, I keep a close eye on myself and my brother (who is 11 years older than I) for signs. Some things I have picked up that seem to help with the onset of dementia are the mind puzzles, continuing to have new experiences and, maybe most important (according to recent study, having a strong web of social connections. This seems to have a very significant impact and something my father did not have. He was strong in the other areas and always kept his mind active reading and working late into his career. But he was a loner.

    I am not looking forward to going down this road, but I fear it is my fate. Unless they figure out a way to manage it better between now and my onset. We'll see. My father went through a really difficult personality change when things began falling apart. He fought with everyone and became a real bastard - I think in large part as a response to the confusion and anxiety over not being able to cover it up anymore. Even alienated his then-wife who left him and pawned him off on my brother and I to deal with. We eventually got him into an assisted living situation through some trickery and eventually his meanness leveled out. But it was so nasty that my brother and I each gave the other permission to push us off a cliff if we ever start acting like that.

    My theory with dementia is that without long term memory, we exist more like most other mammals. Dogs have memory, for example, but I think they lack the ability to reflect on that memory in the absence of a trigger. So, if they smell something familiar or see someone they haven't seen in a long time, they think "hey, I know you!" but I think their ability to think about that person when they are not around is very limited. And I think that is very much like the state my father is in. Its very Zen, in a way - enforced mindfulness. The downside is it makes planning for the future (one of our uniquely human traits) impossible. Meaning one cannot live alone lest they start the house on fire, or flood it, or who knows what...

    One thing I have noticed about my own memory is that I can recall phone numbers with great accuracy - I even remember an old childhood friend's that I haven't called in probably 30 years. But dates baffle me, so I am terrible about birthdays.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  10. #10
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Alzheimer's disease seems to run in my family. We had a long hard struggle with my Nana for many years before she passed away. Though my mom is still quite young, early 50s, I can already see traits in her behavior that make me suspect she too will suffer from the disease. She does do some memory exercises and maintains a healthy diet to try to combat this, but it is hard to tell if these things will prevent anything.

    Personally, I have an extremely sharp memory for things that I read or write. I breezed through college by simply attending classes, reading the chapters, and creating a handful of flashcards the day before an exam. I barely studied to be honest, but aced everything because I understood how my memory works and capitalized on that. On the other hand, I most likely couldn't tell you what I did last Monday unless it was an out of the ordinary event, or whether or not I locked the door before I left, which makes me panic so I have to run back up the stairs to double check, only to discover that I did lock the door, just like every other time. I tend to go into "auto-pilot" a lot, which is great for mundane tasks, but I suspect it is not great for maintaining a high level of memory function.

    I do puzzles and problem solving exercises all the time. I should probably do more memory exercises.

    My great grandmother, my nana, my mom, and myself all are culprits of "auto-piloting" our way through things. I'll get back to you all in a few years about whether or not my memory is deteriorating, if I remember
    Occupy Your Brain!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    From everything I've read, I do think that there's some kind of genetic component in dementia and/or Alzheimers just as there is in alcoholism. I think the difference is that some alcoholics can sucessfully combat their disease whereas sufferers of dementia and Alzheimers can do little about their problem. The good news is that inheritance is a crap shoot, and if you get the right combo of genes, you can have a sharp memory all your life.

    In my family, none of my relatives on either side suffered from memory loss, even the ones who are currently in or who lived into their nineties. That doesn't mean that dementia or Alzheimer's isn't lurking in my brain or my brothers' or our kids', waiting for the right trigger to attack. I think that's a very scary thought. I used to worry about being physically incapacitated by old age. Now I worry more about being mentally incapacitated.

    Wahday, I think that you are right about the importance in social attitudes. All the people I know who are in their eighties who are still "sharp" all seem to be active people who do things. They have friends, belong to seniors clubs and churches, do things outside their homes etc. They don't seem to be people who shut themselves away from the world.

    Note to Self: get your butt away from the computer, woman, and go visit some people!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    My grandma and grandpa on my dad's side both had Alzheimer's. My grandpa only had it about 4-5 years in the mid-90s, before the care and treatment for dementia was as widespread as it is now. I almost think it was lucky of him that he went quicker. The disease is not fun at all. It's a very slow and sad death. He was cared for by my grandma and aunt and luckily did not spend excessive time in a nursing home. He went in one for about three months and went fairly quickly.

    My grandma, meanwhile, developed it shortly after he died, and had it probably about 10 years. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that when he died, she became kinda socially isolated, aside from visits from family maybe once a week. Hers went largely unnoticed for several years, but soon, some major signs lead to us to believe that she was developing Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia. We put her in a really nice "supportive living" community, as she started to need some help in her daily activities. Also, by the time she had developed the disease, medication/treatment was more readily available. But the treatment really only served to slow the disease. So, we feel we bought a little bit of time with the medication. But regardless, things got worse, and she needed progressively increased care, requiring moves into an assisted-living facility specifically for Alzheimer's, and eventually a nursing home.

    Alzheimer's is an interesting disease. During the early and middle stages of the disease, she could tell you a very detailed story from 50-60 years ago that was probably 100% accurate, but she couldn't remember what happened yesterday. Towards the end, you forget how to eat, and it's pretty much all over at that point.

    I think the jury is still out on whether Alzheimer's is nature or nurture or some combination. I don't feel my grandparents were that socially withdrawn or didn't do things to keep themselves busy. However, my grandma on my mom's side is still sharp as a tack and is very socially active (whether with her boyfriend, going to social clubs, etc.) and is always doing crosswords, watching Wheel of Fortune, etc. So to conclude, I feel it doesn't hurt to do things to keep your mind stimulated and remain socially active, and develop these good habits early on.

    I feel I have a great memory. Photographic in most cases. Sometimes it can be selective though, and some things are more ingrained in my mind than others. I'm only in my 20s, but I really enjoy doing puzzles (I really like Sporcle quizzes), working on my fictional cities, and I try to be as socially active as possible, and hardly ever turn down an opportunity to hang out with people.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  13. #13
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    Where my memory is good is recalling things I have read.

    I am a very slow reader, as I read about two books to my wife's 24, but I can recall minutiae of books we have both read that leave her drop-jawed.

    My mother suffered the humiliation of gradual disability with Parkinson type symptoms. One thing I like to do just for fun is solve little arithmetic problems in my head. Otherwise, I have a solid yoga practice that has been a daily routine for so long I don't remember when it did become regular, but I am lucky to have a very good teacher I see once a week.

    My wife teaches a form of Tai Chi to seniors that helps maintain balance and coordination and also psycho-motor control.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    From everything I've read, I do think that there's some kind of genetic component in dementia and/or Alzheimers just as there is in alcoholism. I think the difference is that some alcoholics can sucessfully combat their disease whereas sufferers of dementia and Alzheimers can do little about their problem. The good news is that inheritance is a crap shoot, and if you get the right combo of genes, you can have a sharp memory all your life.

    Wahday, I think that you are right about the importance in social attitudes. All the people I know who are in their eighties who are still "sharp" all seem to be active people who do things. They have friends, belong to seniors clubs and churches, do things outside their homes etc. They don't seem to be people who shut themselves away from the world.
    Physical activity seems to be another rather important factor in healthy brain function and on memory and learning, so thats another one to add to the list. Also, there have been some recent advances in understanding the many things that can lead to dementia (none of which can really be confirmed until after death). Heavy drinking, for example, can also lead to dementia or a related disease that looks similar called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. In fact, a full 10 percent of dementia patients are reported to have had significant, long-term alcohol abuse in their life. Another interesting cause, but as yet not as well understood, is head trauma. I have a friend whose father was a rather successful boxer in his youth and now has debilitating dementia. Football players are also starting to show up with it.

    So, dementia is not just one thing, but a similar expression of many diseases or other causes. So much to worry about! I guess the thing I try to do is be active - physically, socially and mentally. But...what was I talking about?
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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