Forget It and Get Smart

It’s so frustrating to not be able to remember something.  But it can also be a little scary and maybe embarrassing.  “You’re not as young as you used to be, Ken.”  That’s what they’re thinking!  (Likely not…but this is what we do, right?)

Scary and embarrassing.

Scary because these days we might wonder whether Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia has come to claim us.  Embarrassing because that piece of information is right there on the tip of our tongues and we can’t quite reach it….while people wait patiently (or not) for us to finish our thought.

But what if I told you that forgetfulness helps learning?

Well, according to researchers at the University of Toronto (suspicious Canadian source, I know)…the goal of memory isn’t to hold on to all information, but rather to hold on to useful information and let go of that which is not useful.  This for the purpose of optimizing intelligence.

So if I forget to pick up the loaf of bread on the way home….that’s just me getting smarter?

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) forgetfulness is a normal part of aging though folks sometimes worry that it is the onset of Alzheimer’s.  They list a few useful examples of the differences between forgetfulness and Alzheimer’s.

  • Forgetfulness – missed a monthly payment.
  • Alzheimer’s – Problems managing monthly bills.
  • Forgetfulness – forgetting the right word in mid-sentence.
  • Alzheimer’s – having trouble maintaining a conversation.

WebMD has some good tips for improving your memory.  Here are a couple I like and use frequently.  (Let’s see if I can remember them….)

TALK ALOUD TO YOURSELF – I use this one everyday as I pull away from the house in my truck.  “The garage door is closed” I say…because if I don’t say it I end up circling back to check it.  Oh, and by the way, the garage door has been closed 100% of the times I have circled back.

POST REMINDER SIGNS IN YOUR HOUSE – I use this one a lot to….though it would be more accurate to say that my wife uses this one a lot on my behalf.  Lots of post it notes.  “Don’t forget your computer / iPad / snacks / Trash to Curb”.  Sometimes I still forget the “trash to curb”….wink, wink.

MNEMONIC TRICKS– Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey….you get the picture.

EXERCISE MIND AND BODY – regular exercise, reasonable nutrition and a solid sleep plan helps in this area and others.  But don’t forget to exercise that brain muscle, too.  Read, play a musical instrument, trivia games, chess, etc… something fun and sustainable .

That’s all I can remember to say about forgetfulness.  Did I miss anything?  I hope so….

…because according to those Canadians, that’s me gettin’ smarter.


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2 Replies to “Forget It and Get Smart”

  1. I talk aloud to remember numbers or spellings for transposing. Don’t use posting signs because I forget to look at them. Don’t use mnemonic tricks because I’ve opted to forget the silly spelling of “mnemonic.” Do a fair amount of exercise of mind and body. Have one more useful device. “I know I sound silly at 84 but you should have heard me when I was 30 and not yet educated.”

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