How to Improve Your Memory

 

 

Memory skills

A strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain. Whether you’re a student studying for final exams, a working professional interested in doing all you can to stay mentally sharp, or a senior looking to preserve and enhance your grey matter as you age, there are lots of things you can do to improve your memory and mental performance.

 

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Harnessing the power of your brain
They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but when it comes to the brain, scientists have discovered that this old adage simply isn’t true. The human brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and change—even into old age. This ability is known as neuroplasticity. With the right stimulation, your brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways.

The brain’s incredible ability to reshape itself holds true when it comes to learning and memory. You can harness the natural power of neuroplasticity to increase your cognitive abilities, enhance your ability to learn new information, and improve your memory.

Improving memory tip 1: Don’t skimp on exercise or sleep

  • Just as an athlete relies on sleep and a nutrition-packed diet to perform his or her best, your ability to remember increases when you nurture your brain with a good diet and other healthy habits.
  • When you exercise the body, you exercise the brain
  • Treating your body well can enhance your ability to process and recall information. Physical exercise increases oxygen to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exercise may also enhance the effects of helpful brain chemicals and protect brain cells.

Improve your memory by sleeping on it

  • When you’re sleep deprived, your brain can’t operate at full capacity. Creativity, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking skills are compromised. Whether you’re studying, working, or trying to juggle life’s many demands, sleep deprivation is a recipe for disaster.
  • But sleep is critical to learning and memory in an even more fundamental way. Research shows that sleep is necessary for memory consolidation, with the key memory-enhancing activity occurring during the deepest stages of sleep.

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Improving memory tip 2: Make time for friends and fun

  • When you think of ways to improve memory, do you think of “serious” activities such as wrestling with the New York Times crossword puzzle or mastering chess strategy, or do more lighthearted pastimes—hanging out with friends or enjoying a funny movie—come to mind? If you’re like most of us, it’s probably the former. But countless studies show that a life that’s full of friends and fun comes with cognitive benefits.
  • Healthy relationships: the ultimate memory booster
  • Humans are highly social animals. We’re not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Relationships stimulate our brains—in fact, interacting with others may be the best kind of brain exercise.
  • Research shows that having meaningful relationships and a strong support system are vital not only to emotional health, but also to brain health. In one recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health, for example, researchers found that people with the most active social lives had the slowest rate of memory decline.
  • There are many ways to start taking advantage of the brain and memory-boosting benefits of socializing. Volunteer, join a club, make it a point to see friends more often, or reach out over the phone. And if a human isn’t handy, don’t overlook the value of a pet—especially the highly-social dog.

have fun

 

Laughter is good for your brain

  • You’ve heard that laughter is the best medicine, and that holds true for the brain as well as the body. Unlike emotional responses, which are limited to specific areas of the brain, laughter engages multiple regions across the whole brain.
  • Furthermore, listening to jokes and working out punch lines activates areas of the brain vital to learning and creativity. As psychologist Daniel Goleman notes in his book Emotional Intelligence, “laughter…seems to help people think more broadly and associate more freely.”

 

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Looking for ways to bring more laughter in your life? Start with these basics:

  • Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take ourselves less seriously is to talk about the times when we took ourselves too seriously.
  • When you hear laughter, move toward it. Most of the time, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”
  • Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily—both at themselves and at life’s absurdities—and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.
  • Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.
  • Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing.

 

Improving memory tip 3: Keep stress in check
Stress is one of the brain’s worst enemies. Over time, if left unchecked, chronic stress destroys brain cells and damages the hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in the formation of new memories and the retrieval of old ones.

 

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  • The stress-busting, brain-boosting benefits of meditation
  • The scientific evidence for the mental health benefits of meditation continues to pile up. Studies show that meditation helps improve many different types of conditions, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Meditation also can improve focus, concentration, creativity, and learning and reasoning skills.
  • Meditation works its “magic” by changing the actual brain. Brain images show that regular meditators have more activity in the left prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with feelings of joy and equanimity. Meditation also increases the thickness of the cerebral cortex and encourages more connections between brain cells—all of which increases mental sharpness and memory ability.

Depression and anxiety can also affect memory

  • In addition to stress, depression, anxiety, and chronic worrying can also take a heavy toll on the brain. In fact, some of the symptoms of depression and anxiety include difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things. If you are mentally sluggish because of depression or anxiety, dealing with the problem will make a big difference in your cognitive abilities,including memory.

Improving memory tip 4: Eat a brain-boosting diet
Just as the body needs fuel, so does the brain. You probably already know that a diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, “healthy” fats (such as olive oil, nuts, fish) and lean protein will provide lots of health benefits, but such a diet can also improve memory. But for brain health, it’s not just what you eat—it’s also what you don’t eat. The following nutritional tips will help boost your brainpower and reduce your risk of dementia:

 

diet

  1. Get your omega-3s. More and more evidence indicates that omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial for brain health. Fish is a particularly rich source of omega-3, especially cold water “fatty fish” such as salmon, tuna, halibut, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring. In addition to boosting brainpower, eating fish may also lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. If you’re not a fan of seafood, consider non-fish sources of omega-3s such as walnuts, ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, winter squash, kidney and pinto beans, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans.
  2. Limit calories and saturated fat. Research shows that diets high in saturated fat (from sources such as red meat, whole milk, butter, cheese, sour cream, and ice cream) increase your risk of dementia and impair concentration and memory. Eating too many calories in later life can also increase your risk of cognitive impairment. Talk to your doctor or dietician about developing a healthy eating plan.
  3. Eat more fruit and vegetables. Produce is packed with antioxidants, substances that protect your brain cells from damage. Colorful fruits and vegetables are particularly good antioxidant “superfood” sources. Try leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, and arugula, and fruit such as bananas, apricots, mangoes, cantaloupe, and watermelon.
  4. Drink green tea. Green tea contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that protect against free radicals that can damage brain cells. Among many other benefits, regular consumption of green tea may enhance memory and mental alertness and slow brain aging.
  5. Drink wine (or grape juice) in moderation. Keeping your alcohol consumption in check is key, since alcohol kills brain cells. But in moderation (around 1 glass a day for women; 2 for men), alcohol may actually improve memory and cognition. Red wine appears to be the best option, as it is rich in resveratrol, a flavonoid that boosts blood flow in the brain and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Other resveratrol-packed options include grape juice, cranberry juice, fresh grapes and berries, and peanuts.

Use mnemonic devices to make memorization easier
Mnemonics (the initial “m” is silent) are clues of any kind that help us remember something, usually by helping us associate the information we want to remember with a visual image, a sentence, or a word.

 

Nmonics

 

Tips for enhancing your ability to learn and remember

  • Pay attention. You can’t remember something if you never learned it, and you can’t learn something—that is, encode it into your brain—if you don’t pay enough attention to it. It takes about eight seconds of intense focus to process a piece of information into your memory. If you’re easily distracted, pick a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.
  • Involve as many senses as possible. Try to relate information to colors, textures, smells, and tastes. The physical act of rewriting information can help imprint it onto your brain. Even if you’re a visual learner, read out loud what you want to remember. If you can recite it rhythmically, even better.
  • Relate information to what you already know. Connect new data to information you already remember, whether it’s new material that builds on previous knowledge, or something as simple as an address of someone who lives on a street where you already know someone.
  • For more complex material, focus on understanding basic ideas rather than memorizing isolated details. Practice explaining the ideas to someone else in your own words.

Rehearse information you’ve already learned. Review what you’ve learned the same day you learn it, and at intervals thereafter. This “spaced rehearsal” is more effective than cramming, especially for retaining what you’ve learned.

 

source : help guide.org

What everyone should know about Mental Retardation

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What is Mental Retardation?

  • It’s impaired or incomplete mental development. People who are mentally retarded are limited in their ability to learn and their capacity for putting learning to use.
  • Mental Retardation means SLOWING DOWN but not STOPPING
  • People who are retarded feel, think and hope, just like everyone else. Despite their limitations, they have more similarities with others than they have differences.
  • There are many different degrees of mental retardation

Causes of mental retardation:

Any condition, illness or injury that interferes with mental development before, during or after birth can cause mental retardation.

These can be either

Medical – hereditary factors, genetic abnormalities, poor prenatal care, injuries to mothers-to-be or infants, etc.
Social – lack of mental stimulation, physical abuse, poverty, discrimination and other nonmedical conditions.
There is no measurable damage to brain tissue itself in most cases of retardation. So — it’s usually impossible to know beforehand if an infant will be mentally retarded.(Retardation can occur in any family, regardless of race, income or education level.)Over 250 specific causes have been identified, but they account for only 1/4 of all cases of mental retardation.

 

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8 Leading Known Causes of Mental Retardation

1. Infections during pregnancy. Infections are especially dangerous during the first 3 months. German measles (rubella) is one infectious disease that can cause a baby to be born retarded. It can be prevented by vaccination before pregnancy.

2. Abnormal delivery. Premature babies are more often retarded than full-term babies. Very long, extremely rapid or difficult childbirth all can cause brain damage leading to retardation. The problem usually is an insufficient oxygen supply to the baby (anoxia).

 

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3. Infectious Illness in infancy. Infectious illnesses that most commonly affect mental development in infants are meningitis and encephalitis. These illnesses usually can be successfully treated if diagnosed early.

4. Toxic agents. These can be eaten or inhaled by a pregnant mother or a baby. Take medicines only by prescription – and with your physician’s approval. Alcohol consumption by pregnant women can cause retardation in their children, so don’t drink. Lead poisoning, contracted when small children chew lead-painted objects, can cause retardation.

5. Metabolic Disorders. Different defects in body chemistry can cause several types of retardation. Phenylketonuria, hypothyroidism, galactosemia and others can be corrected if diagnosed promptly and a proper diet is followed.

6. Rh Blood Factor Incompatability. This may lead to severe retardation. Good prenatal care and transfusions right after birth can prevent damage. New vaccines for Rh negative mothers can prevent damage to the baby in many cases.

7. Physical Malformations. Hydrocephalus (fluid accumulation in the brain) and craniosynostosis (premature hardening of the skull) sometimes result in retardation. These can sometimes be corrected by surgery.

8. Down’s Syndrome. An inborn genetic defect, Down’s Syndrome affects one out of every 600 babies. There’s no known cure, but tests are available to detect genetic disorders in parents and the unborn child. Down’s Syndrome is more common when the mother is over 35.

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What is being done to help people with mental retardation?

Much basic and applied research still is needed in this field. Many basic questions still are unanswered.

Today we have the knowledge to help most people who are retarded lead fuller, happier lives through

  • Special education
  • Clinical programs
  • Social services
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Unfortunately, despite recent advances,
  • most people who are mentally retarded do not yet receive the professional help they need. Statistics show:about 240,000 persons in public and private residential facilities.
  • about 800,000 in regular and special education classes
  • millions still need services.

 

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It’s time to close the gap between what is known and what is done through…

1. Early diagnosis and treatment. Retardation often is not diagnosed until children start school. This presents an unnecessary disability during the years of greatest growth.

All infants should be examined periodically for all types of disablities or abnormal conditions, including mental retardation.

2. More workers for mental retardation programs. Specially trained professionals are needed. High school and junior college graduates can build rewarding careers in this people-helping field that needs thousands of trained personnel with hundreds of different skills.

3. Expanded education and service programs. Education for individuals who are retarded can be expanded and improved.

Many needs of people who are retarded can be met through outpatient services, which can be included in community health-care plans.

4. Increased research and information exchange. This includes searching for cures, helping to find ways toprevent retardation, compiling statistics, providing genetic counseling, etc.Information, research and resource centers to share information are important tools for learning more about retardation and for putting knowledge into action.

5. New legal code and legal services for people who are retarded. There is a special need for free or low-cost legal services.

Laws based upon outdated prejudices about mental retardation should be changed. Most persons who are retarded can and should exercise the same legal rights as others.

6. More vocational opportunities and training. People who are retarded can be excellent workers and can learn a wide range of job skills.

More job opportunities are urgently needed, as well as better coordination between vocational training and job placement.

7. Family counseling and assistance. Most people with mental retardation are happier and do better as part of a family. Family counseling can help families keep members who are retarded living with them instead of in institutions, by providing emotional and pratical guidance and support.

8. New living facilities. Facilities must be available to take over when families are unable to care for a relative who is retarded.

There is a need for more group homes, foster homes, day-care centers and small residential facilities. The trend is away from larger institutions, which often lack funds and staff required for quality care.

9. More services for more people in the future. Private agencies, government and industry can work together, combining a wide range of knowledge and resources.

Cooperation is the best way to develop better distribution of services to all groups.

 

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What you can do…..

Understand what mental retardation is, how it can be prevented and treated.
Find out about the mental retardation services in your community and how they can be improved.
Support all levels of government funding, and industry and private efforts to combat mental retardation with your vote, your involvement and your dollars.
Volunteer your help. Participate in tutoring, recreational or foster grandparent programs. Join local civic and service organizations helping citizens who are retarded.

 

source: samhi.mimh.edu

Cold or Hot Therapy : Tips to help you decide

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Hot, Cold, and Compression Therapy for Injuries

The modalities of hot, cold and compression have a very appropriate role in the treatment of most injuries. The immediate result of almost all injuries involving the soft tissues (muscles tendons and ligaments) includes pain, possible bleeding, and a leakage of fluid from damaged tissues into the area. Afterwards, there is a migration of white blood cells into the region of the injury. For this reason it is common to have inflammation, swelling and stiffness following an injury.

The healing process requires increased blood flow into the area of an injury to support the process of cellular growth. As long as swelling persists and circulation is congested, the healing process is delayed or retarded.
The swelling must be reduced before full recovery can occur.

Many first-aid authorities recommend the simultaneous use of cold and compression therapy, often identified as R.I.C.E. therapy.

R = Rest. Avoid over-exertion or weight bearing on the injured body part.

I = Ice. Apply cold to the injury as described below.

C = Compression. Apply compression with an elastic bandage.

E = Elevation. Elevate the injured area above the level of the heart (about even with the lower portion of the breast) to help drain the area of excessive fluid accumulation.

Once swelling has subsided (about 2-3 days or so), the application of heat will help reduce pain and promote healing. Heat can be used to provide effective relief from the aches and pain associated with sore muscles and stiff joints.

1. Cold therapy:

It has been found that cold applications (ice packs, cold compresses, frozen gel packs, frozen bag of peas, etc.) to the surface of the body will cause a contraction of the small blood vessels in that area. This will have an immediate effect on reducing the flow of blood and other fluids through that area, and therefore help to reduce local swelling.

An addition, a cold application will also help relieve any pain in the area by reducing the sensitivity of local nerve endings. The following specific problems respond especially well to cold therapy.

  • Bruises: apply cold to the bruised area to temporarily relieve pain, minimize swelling and reduce black-and-blue marks. If the skin has been broken, be sure to apply a sterile dressing to the area before applying cold.
  • Toothaches: apply cold to the cheek or jaw to help temporarily relieve discomfort.
  • Simple Headache: apply cold to the painful area to help relieve the discomfort.
  • Insect Bites: apply cold to the bitten area to help relieve itching and reduce swelling.
  • Muscle Spasms: applying cold to the spastic area will help temporarily relieve discomfort.

Be careful not to apply an excessively cold product directly to the skin surface. At the very least, place a paper towel on the skin before applying cold and then wrap the cold product in place with an elastic bandage. Leave the cold product in place for approximately 15-25 minutes and elevate the involved joint or limb to about heart level if possible.

Cold therapy can be applied every two hours during the initial 72 hours after an injury. If the injury is somewhat severe, the cold can be applied 2-3 times in a row for 15-20 minutes each with a 30-minute rest between applications. This type of treatment can be repeated several times a day.

When used properly, cold therapy can help reduce the severity of symptoms and the time required for recovery.

Cold and compression are medically recommended therapies for the first 72 hours after an injury to help reduce local pain and swelling. More importantly, by containing the severity of swelling, the application of cold and compression can have a significant impact on helping to promote healing and speed recovery from that injury.

Many first-aid authorities recommend the simultaneous use of cold and compression therapy, often identified as R.I.C.E. therapy.

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Which cold pack is best? For years, doctors and medical professionals have recommended using a bag of frozen peas or sweet corn instead of a gel pack or ice. Why? Because the frozen vegetables are able to more easily conform to your injured body part. However, frozen vegetables have a tendency to leak and the packaging was not designed for reuse.

Some like it HOT

Sore, stiff muscles are best treated with Hot Therapy because the heat helps to relax and loosen tired muscles. Heat can also be used before exercise to improve mobility by loosening muscles and increasing joint elasticity.

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2. Heat Therapy

Heat Therapy (hot compress, microwaved gel pack, heating pad, etc.) promotes blood flow and enhances healing. Moist heat will penetrate more deeply than dry heat.

To aid recuperation from an injury, heat should only be used after swelling has subsided and after cold therapy has already been used. One should limit the application of heat to no more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time four times daily. Do not fall asleep on a heating pad!

People with nerve or circulatory problems (such as advanced diabetes) should not use heat unless otherwise prescribed by a physician. Do not apply heat to broken and/or sensitive skin. One should not sit, lean or bear weight on the hot compress.

Proper use of heat can…

  • Relieve muscle aches and pain.
  • Temporarily relieve discomfort from arthritis.
  • Relieve sore and stiff joints.
  • Relieve the discomfort of muscle tension and cramping.

Notice: This article is not a substitute for  Medical Professional Help.  For any injury consult your medical professional.

source: coldone.com