Memory is defined as the accuracy and ease with which a person can retain and recall past experiences (Webster`s Dictionary, pg. 611). It is often thought of as a capacity, such as a cup, that could be full or empty. A more common comparison is one to a computer. Some minds, like computers, can have more software, being able to save and recall more experiences, information, and memories than others can. And like a computer, minds can be upgraded. This is not done with a simple installation of a chip, but by following a number of small procedures that will enhance and sharpen a memory.
As people age, many people believe that the loss of memory is inevitable. Once people go over a certain age, they begin to lose their memory and will be thought of as old and forgetful. People who forget things often complain about a bad memory, but in most of these cases these people never took the time to learn whatever they thought they could remember. Most scientists believe there is no such thing as a good or bad memory, only good and bad learners. Depending on the amount of attention a person gives something depends on how well a person will remember hat fact or event (Reich, pg. 96).
Beginning at the age of 50, people of similar ages begin to differ more and more from one another in their mental performance. Some memories drop noticeably, but many stay the same or even rise. Most investigators agree that no mental decline occurs before the age of 65 or 70 that affects a person`s ability to function in the real world (Schrof, pg. 89). In many societies still today, such as in China, elders are considered the wisest and are very well respected. There are two types of memories, long and short term.
Anything remembered under 30 seconds is considered short-term memory, and anything after that is considered long-term memory (Kasschau, pp. 57-58). Endell Tulving has broken it down even further into episodic and semantic memories. Episodic memory is remembering specific events or names. Semantic memory refers to general knowledge, like speaking a language or doing math problems (Corsini, pg. 355). Many things can be done to increase and keep a person`s memory sharp. Seeking variety provides a broad range of experiences that provide reservoirs of knowledge to search through in old age.
A willingness to try new things and improvise gives that mind more experience. People who are at peace and find life fulfilling have a memory that is stronger and lasts longer than those who are often angry or depressed do. Strengthening a memory can start during childhood. Eating right as a baby leads to strong, healthy brains, while nutritional deficits can permanently impair mental functions. Getting lots of stimulation and staying in school are two ways to make your memory last longer. Enriched environments cause brain cells to grow as much as 5 percent more than those in bland environments (Schrof, pg. 1).
When a person reaches young adulthood, making many friends can keep a person sharp. People with many friends often score higher of cognitive tests and are able to adapt better to new situations. Finding a mentor and marrying someone who is smarter than you help also, leading you to strive to match your mate`s abilities (Schrof, pg. 91). As a person enters middle age, putting away money for trips can be beneficial. People with extra money can treat themselves to mind nourishing xperiences like travel and cultural events. Achieve major life goals now to avoid burnout.
People who head into retirement fulfilled will feel at peace with their accomplishments (Schrof, pg. 91). When a person enters the late sixties, they should search for things that continue to challenge them and intrigue the mind. In other words, do not get bored. Doing things that make you feel like you are doing something constructive also helps. Those who do not feel like they have no purpose and tend to burn out. Taking a daily half-hour walk can increase your scores on intelligence tests. Too much exercise at too much of an intense pace hinders the memory (Schrof, pg. 1).
Neurologists today are finding that later in life the brain stops producing a hormone involved in the memory process, acetylcholine. So far results have shown that drugs can act as the hormone to recharge the memory. Another method of remembering more is called chunking. Short-term memory is limited in its duration as well as in its capacity. Your short-term memory can store and retrieve about seven unrelated items. After you already have your immediate memory filled, attempting to store ore will cause confusion.
In order to store more information and avoid confusion, grouping items into chunks will allow for a person to remember more. Using the initials of a string of words can minimize three or four unrelated items into one. Items that are often minimized are items such as phone numbers and names of favorite radio stations (Kasschau, pp. 57-58). There are many elderly people who are or have been considered great people with great minds. The late Mother Teresa was considered by all to have a great mind, and she was in her late eighties.
Nelson Mandela is also over eighty and is admired by many because of his experiences and mind. Grandma Moses has to be one of the more popular of old great minds, painting and remembering many of her experiences past her 100th birthday. It seems everyday more theories come out about how memory can be improved and kept sharp. Most are simple everyday steps that the majority of people never think about, some are more complicated than average person will understand. Even today researchers are no where near completely understanding memory.
With all the continuing study of the memory going on, it s safe to say that much more advice will come out in the future about how to strengthen memory. With the continuing knowledge about memory still coming out, no one knows how much humans will be able to expand the strength of the average memory. With so little of the brain being used at this point in age, maybe in the future more of the brain will be available for use. This would no doubt lead to the expansion of memory. One final comparison that the memory can be made to is a car. Lots of cars break down, but with the right maintenance and tune-ups many never do.