It’s summertime and the living is easy, right? Not always. The change of routine which comes with a change of season is easier for some, but can also create more difficulty for those with memory issues. Whether it’s a change of season, change of living environment or increased assistance needed, change can cause stress, depression and subsequently increased memory problems in many older adults.
We dislike change in life because routine is easier. Change challenges our brains which often sheds light on lurking memory issues. It can also result from the progression of memory or health symptoms making it even more undesirable. So how can we ease periods of change to help those with memory issues?
Here are some tips helpful habits for anyone experiencing changes in life. (Click on the highlighted words for more details.)
- Keep the familiar and do one thing at a time. We want to challenge our brains. But too much stimulation can cause stress which is not good for our brains. While we always want to keep learning, we also need to balance the stress that change and too many new things at once can bring.
- Activate the Senses. We like familiar smells, fabrics, foods, and visual things around us. This creates a sense of security and comfort which is good. But it’s also good to pay attention to the sense experiences of new seasons, surroundings or people in our lives to help us remember. When we activate our senses, we have more information to help us remember and create new memories. Keep some familiar but also seek new sensory input.
- Associate and remember. Use the sensory information gained to associate the new season, environment or experience to help remember and begin to feel comfortable. It’s one of the easiest and most useful memory techniques.
- Use tools to help. Whether it’s a calendar to keep all the seasonal activities straight, lists to help adjust to a new environment, or music to help soothe the stress of change, there’s an app for that! Whether we use paper or electronic methods, using tools to assist with any new situation can help anyone’s memory, not only those with memory issues.
- Focus and train your Brain. Many times we can anticipate a change coming. When that’s the case, plan ahead and learn to ease the transition. Focus and pay attention to understand a new routine, change of environment or situation. When we focus and train our brain, the impact and stress of change is minimized.
- Stay physically active. When possible, keep physically moving. Change is difficult and exercise is often the first thing sacrificed in new situations. Don’t let this happen! Keep moving to keep both body and mind in the best shape possible to adapt to change.
Changes in life are inevitable. How we prepare, plan, react and adapt can make change more positive for everyone involved. Try implementing these suggestions and please comment with any additional suggestions. Let’s see and address change positively in our lives and for those we care about most.