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How can a failing memory be helped?

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Question: "I've been at the same job for more than 25 years, and now my memory seems to be failing more and more. Lately it's gotten very noticeable by others. I'm still several years from retirement, and I'd like to know what others have tried to either improve their memory or create ways to make the natural loss of it less of a problem." - Gloria, Records Supervisor


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie July 25, 2014 at 10:25 am

I agree with what everyone is saying as they are all valid ways to help with memory loss. I have a boss who relies on me to send him a reminder of appointments or remind him of tasks he needs to get done. His memory isn’t the best with everything he has to deal with so I can understand why a friendly nudge is helpful. It also helps me break up my day from doing the same thing over and over again, I found that I was starting to forget things I was supposed to do during the day. It helps my brain take a break from the task at hand and think of something other than my job, it helps to refresh my brain and helps my boss out as well. With everything a supervisor has on their plates, a little help isn’t a bad thing.


Cyndi July 25, 2014 at 8:09 am

All of the suggestions are very good, however, Vitamins D & B help brain function. Your doctor can check your D level and recommend a proper dosage. The B complex works best without knowing which B to take; i.e, B6 or B12. My go to website is StopAgingNow.com. I am speaking from experience and yes, I have maintained my focus as an official senior due to age, not mental decline. :-)


KathyM July 24, 2014 at 7:02 pm

I use this website called: “Memo to Me”. It’s great. You can set it up to remind you of everything to Dr.’s appts. to remembering whatever it is you think you’ll forget. If I’m not mistaken they just ask for a small donation of your choice to use it. I find it to be so helpful, as I too, have been in the same job for 33 years and after a while things become so mundane. I have to also say though, that interruptions are a commonality in our agency and then I tend to forget what I was doing before I was interrupted.

My problem seems to be misplacing things lately. I’m not sure what that’s about but I find if I take my time and not rush to do things so quickly, it’s been a help.

What did I just write? Lol.

It’s in all of us. It’s the way of the world. Too much going on and not enough down time.


Dawn July 24, 2014 at 5:08 pm

There is a site called Luminosity.com that challenges memory with scientific but fun brain games. I would suggest trying out this site and crossword puzzles also help.


Janet July 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I can totally relate to each of you but mostly Babs’ response fits me to a T. If I weren’t so close to retirement, I’d look for a new job. Instead, I’m going to get more exercise, do brain exercises, keep my outside interests fresh and really, really try to concentrate on each task. :)


Cathy July 24, 2014 at 4:39 pm

I love Outlook calendar/task functions because of their pop-up reminders. (Some people use a “tickler” file but that didn’t work for me.) I take a couple minutes every morning when I get in & before I leave to update what I need to accomplish. I also make sure to enter anything that comes across my desk on the calendar as soon as I get it! I’m an “everything out” kind of worker, so if I don’t see it, I’ll forget it but my desk is organized (which helps me remember what needs done) – to my left is stuff I’m working on; to my right are things that are in a holding pattern; on the half-wall counter of my cubicle are things that are ready to go out the door and filing that the staff needs to go into the project files. When I’m having a particularly bad memory day, I get up and take brief regular breaks to clear my head and try to take a walk during lunch hour. It’s a trial-and-error thing . . . I think you just have to be aware it’s a problem, slow things down a bit, stay organized, and either use a calendar with pop-ups like Outlook provides or keep a tablet right next to your elbow with everything jotted down that needs done that day/week. I also agree with Sibu, there are a lot of free games on-line that help memory and you can do those either at lunch time or at home. Luminosity.com has some cool brain/mind exercises but you do have to sign up and there is fee to use them beyond the free trial. Hope some of that helps.


Becky July 24, 2014 at 4:32 pm

I was just at an Fred Pryor Seminar and our trainer, Orrin Rudolph, spoke about how memory loss is an epidemic these days and that he started to fall into this category. He was amazing. All 75 of us in his class walked in and told him our names one time when we walked through the door and we could sit wherever we would like. Once we were all there, he welcomed each and everyone of us by name to his class. He had remembered all 75 of our names within minutes. He said he did a lot of research on memory loss and it comes from relying a lot on technology these days because we rely so much on our phones and computers. This class was solely on Excel Training so nothing to do with memory so we all wanted to know his secret. He said he started to become worried when Alzheimer’s was becoming an epidemic in his own family so he went to seek help and found these Evelyn Woods Memory Dynamics books and CDs and read and listened to them and he said he just kept practicing all of these tools that these books and CDs gave him and he can now remember up to 200 and some people’s names in his classes. He said your memory is like a muscle and if you don’t use it very much it shrinks. I have never owned these books or CDs but just wanted to throw all of this information out there.


Rachel July 24, 2014 at 4:25 pm

I was diagnosed with ADD and have problems with my memory as a result of it. As soon as someone comes up to talk to me I’ve learned to grab a sticky note and my pen and write down exactly what they say to me. If I dont write things down right away I find that when the person walks away I think to myself “now what did they just say to me?”
Another thing that helps me is using the Task bar on my microsoft outlook email, as well as scheduling reoccuring reminders for daily activities in my calendar on Outlook. That way when I am overwhelmed with other projects I don’t forget about my regular daily tasks.


BABS July 24, 2014 at 4:21 pm

I have it too, but more than blaming it on age, I think it has to do with the same routine over and over and over. You are so used to the job, know your limitations, how long it actually takes to get something done, that we push it to the limit out of boredom. It isn’t like when you were fresh on the job, excited and ready to jump right on it. It’s now the same place, same predicable responses from those around you, the same old problems attached to a new name — boring, you tune out, and procrastinate. When I took my Dad to the doctors for testing, they would ask him what day it was and the date, and when he couldn’t get it right it was marked down as negative – but how many of us when we get away from our office on vacation or long weekend, can shout out the date? I think when we do the same stuff over and over, day in and day out – it stops being challenging, it stops being fun, and we just sort of stop being.


Theresa Kasel July 24, 2014 at 4:17 pm

I would start doing puzzles and games that force you to think and remember things. Suggestions: Sudoku and crossword puzzles, trick taking card games (like Hearts, Spade, Bridge, Oh Hell.)

You could also sign up for a Lumosity account (I have one) and focus on playing the memory games. I believe you can play up to three games each day for free. (I think the annual membership is about $120.)

Make sure you have a good system to write down important things that you need to do. I know I have to do that or I will forget because I have so many things to do.

Get some exercise — even taking short, 10 minute walks a few times a day is supposed to help with mental function.

I would also make sure you mention this at your next annual wellness check up with your doctor. You want to make sure it’s not some physical.


Jill Lawson July 24, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I’m anxious to see responses as I suffer from the same thing. It’s just a part of aging. I do crosswords but they don’t seem to help the memory so much as make the brain stay more active. Please you folks with great memory tricks, post some. Thanks!
Jill – Administrator at HMH


kathy July 24, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I hear you and certainly understand; I do know taking notes as much as possible does help – I was with an employer for 26 years and the same thing was happening; it’s just nature and recognizing it’s happening is your first step in doing something about it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t assume anything – exercise does help clear our minds also – good luck and know you’re not alone!


Jackie July 24, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Forgetfulness has always been a problem for me, because of it, I keep my desk very clean and neat and everything is put away. Also, I use Outlook reminders and tasks with reminders to help me remember things. You can use OneNote as well (it just doesn’t have reminder pop-ups). If you don’t have Outlook or your mail client doesn’t have reminders use Google Calendar or some calendar program. Using Outlook or Google also allows you to go from Office to Home and still have your calendars. I also use a clock app on my smartphone that allows me to set multiple alarms.


Sibu July 24, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Regular exercise is supposed to really help with Memory function, there are herbs and supplements you can try also. Brain games such as puzzles are available that are suppose to help train your brain in such areas as memory and retention and those games are available in a lot of different fun formats such as paper books, video games, and even apps on todays smart phones. Studying with these games everyday is really suppose to be the best training for your brain.


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