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Memory Fitness: A Guide for Successful Aging

Gilles O. Einstein
Mark A. McDaniel
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Memory Fitness
    Book Description:

    Do all adults experience memory difficulties as they age? What is the difference between normal memory change and the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease? Is it possible to stem-or even reverse-memory decline? This timely book is a comprehensive guide for the growing number of adults who are eager to learn how aging affects memory and what can or cannot be done about it.Gilles Einstein and Mark McDaniel, widely respected for their research and lectures on memory, explain how memory works and how memory processes change with age. Based on up-to-date and rigorous scientific evidence, they also offer* techniques and strategies for improving memory in everyday life

    * alternatives to hard-to-use mnemonic techniques

    * physical and mental exercises that can enhance memory

    * a review of drugs and nutritional supplements touted to enhance memory

    * a complete discussion of Alzheimer's disease, its symptoms and risk factors, along with guidance for caretakers

    * and much more.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13358-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Public Health

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Thanks for the Memories AGING AND REMEMBERING
    (pp. 1-13)

    It is likely that Doris Kearns Goodwin had many poignant moments as she thought about the people and events that shaped her early life. Recounting her younger years stimulated her to remember her past, which is something we all do quite often. In addition to being powerful and incredibly important for functioning every day, memory adds a great deal of pleasure to our lives. We spend a good bit of time just sitting around and remembering. When we get together with family and friends, we often have enjoyable times discussing past reunions and vacations, touching moments, stupid things we did,...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Overview of Memory Systems and Processes THE EFFECTS OF AGING
    (pp. 14-32)

    As a psychologist who studies memory, I am often struck by the variety of reactions my research elicits in people of different ages. When I am introduced at parties or gatherings as a memory psychologist, younger people typically respond with mild interest. In contrast, middle-aged and older people respond with keen interest. The same reaction occurs when I lecture to different age groups: younger people show some academic interest in the topic, whereas people over age 30 tend to show a much deeper and more personal interest.

    Today’s media are saturated with articles and news clips about how our ability...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Forgetting and Distorting Are Normal—At All Ages!
    (pp. 33-53)

    One of my friends, a professor, recently visited his undergraduate college for his twenty-fifth reunion. His alma mater is a relatively small liberal arts college in the Midwest. It is the kind of school that has small classes and where professors get to know their students and especially their majors. Professors at this college are very likely to talk about and take pride in their students who go on to graduate school and later become professors. At the reunion, my friend attended a department reception where he had the opportunity to talk with three faculty members who were teaching when...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Working Memory and Avoiding Distractions THE RIGHT TIME FOR THE RIGHT TASK
    (pp. 54-80)

    On a recent flight, I began a conversation with an older businesswoman who was sitting in the next seat. After finding out about my research background in the area of aging and memory, she offered that she felt mentally alert in the morning and got progressively more sluggish as the day progressed. As a result, she tried to accomplish all her important and cognitively demanding work (like report preparation and creative thinking) in the morning and saved her routine work for later in the day. She wondered whether there is any support for her intuition that she is mentally at...

    (pp. 81-92)

    At your fiftieth high school reunion, you have trouble recalling the names of some of your former classmates. For fun, the organizing committee has gathered the high school yearbook photographs from your graduating class and a list of names. You and your classmates are challenged to match the names with the photographs. Much to your surprise you find that you are able to nearly perfectly match the names with the faces.

    This vignette, based on an actual study, illustrates that in many instances information we cannot remember is still in long-term memory.¹ The difficulty is getting the information out of...

  10. CHAPTER SIX How to Learn and Remember Complex Material ARTICLES, LECTURES, AND TEXTBOOKS
    (pp. 93-114)

    One of my students came to me in great distress. He had done poorly on a recent examination and could not figure out why. He had studied many hours for the examination, more hours than his friends. He had read the required chapters several times and gone over his class notes innumerable times. Yet he was disappointed with his grade and what he was able to remember.

    The implicit belief that this student held was that the more one repeats information, the better that information will be remembered. This student is in good company. Many adults hold this belief, including...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Remembering Tough Things
    (pp. 115-129)

    A few years ago, the authors were filmed for an educational video series designed for introductory psychology students. The topic was memory, and as part of the video, several older adults were assembled to chat about their memory problems. One gentleman noted that a memory failure that he was unhappy about was forgetting where he set down his keys. His wife retorted, “But, Honey, in all of the years that I’ve known you, you’ve always forgotten where you put your keys.”

    Some things are tough to remember for all of us, no matter what our age. Where we put our...

    (pp. 130-143)

    I was on a trip to give a research talk at another university. The morning after I arrived, I was selecting the sports coat, slacks, and tie that I would wear to meet the students and faculty. As I rummaged through my suitcase to find my dress shoes, I was feeling confident and excited about my talk later in the day. At first I was perplexed when I couldn’t find them. Then to my horror I realized I had forgotten to pack them. Later that day, there I was at my talk trying to remain calm while dressed in tennis...

  13. CHAPTER NINE Mental Exercise and Memory USE IT OR LOSE IT
    (pp. 144-155)

    I have an aunt who is well into her 80s. I see her only occasionally, but when I do I am always impressed by how alert and vital she is. She is an animated conversationalist. She can talk about a wide variety of topics, and she remembers information well. The last time I saw her at a family wedding, I asked her what her secret is. She informed me that she tries to stay mentally active. I wondered what she meant by that, and she said she has a group of friends that gets together during the week to play...

    (pp. 156-182)

    My research on this chapter quickly convinced me of the multiple benefits of exercise at any age, so much so that I became an impassioned crusader for the value of exercise in older adulthood. During my early research, I discovered that this thinking is counterintuitive for people who grew up in another era. For example, one woman told me that her father, who had been an avid athlete, quit playing tennis when he turned 50. His thinking and the advice given at the time were that demanding athletic activities were too vigorous and that older adults should not push their...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN Effects of Stress, Depression, Illness, and Medications on Memory
    (pp. 183-196)

    Several years ago, a student in one of my classes did poorly on her first exam. She was quite upset by her grade and came to see me to discuss strategies for improving it. She was eager to do better and agreed to meet with me several times a week to work on reviewing the material and improving her study techniques. She faithfully attended all the review sessions and seemed highly prepared each time, but she failed the second examination as well. I tried to reassure her that it sometimes takes a while for new and improved study techniques to...

  16. CHAPTER TWELVE Enhancing Memory with Nutritional Supplements and Vitamins
    (pp. 197-218)

    Recently, a middle-aged real estate salesman was remarking to me that his memory was failing. He was concerned that he was forgetting names of potential clients and forgetting details about these clients that would be helpful in his sales job. Upon finding out that I was a memory researcher, he confided that he was takingGinkgo bilobato try to regain his memory. In fact, he was so eager to obtain positive effects that he was taking three times the recommended dose. Although he believed that ginkgo would help his memory, he was unsure. He knew that expectations sometimes lead...

    (pp. 219-262)

    It’s horrifying to imagine having a memory lapse this severe—especially in front of hundreds of people. All of us have mistakenly repeated a dose of medication, perhaps lost our glasses several times in one day, or repeated a story to a friend several hours later. Immediately repeating a detailed and long toast, however, does signal a fairly profound memory problem, and behaviors like this along with other symptoms could certainly be an indication of Alzheimer’s disease. One question that many of us have is whether our own memory failures or those of our loved ones are attributable to normal...

  18. Notes
    (pp. 263-283)
  19. Index
    (pp. 284-290)