Life sometimes hands us lemons especially as we grow older. Memory changes, bodies don’t function as well, loved ones are lost and living situations change. But what if we took these lemons and turned them into lemonade?
Along with the obvious life changes, aging also affects how well we focus and subsequently can remember. As we get older, our ability to tune out distractions becomes less acute. Distractions steal our focus and attention and with it, our ability to recall things later. But a recent study sought to examine if they could use this changing level of distraction as a tool instead of a hindrance.
In the study, young adults and older adults were asked to remember faces and name pairs. They found older adults were able to remember more pairs when the faces and names were shown again but as a distraction to ignore. This improvement didn’t occur with the younger group of adults. It appears this would be ‘lemon’ phenomenon of being easily distracted is really a processing technique that changes as we get older. Using the fact that distractions register more with older adults could even be called upon as a technique to aid in recall. Now that’s making lemonade out lemons!
Just like in the study we too can take what might be considered a liability and turn it into an asset. Often this can be done simply by adjusting our attitude. The way we think matters just as much as what we think. Taking a lemon of a situation like being more prone to distraction and using it to help with another lemon like remembering less as in this study, is proof.
How can we make lemonade today, this week and for the rest of our days? We all have issues which change daily and especially as we age. Shifting our perspective of how we see and adapt to our daily challenges is one of the cornerstones of our mission here at MemoryMinders. The research lends credibility but we all know if we shift how we think, we can wind up with lemonade and not simply lemons. So don’t just sit there, go make some lemonade today!
Renée K. Biss, Gillian Rowe, Jennifer C. Weeks, Lynn Hasher, Kelly J. Murphy. Leveraging older adults’ susceptibility to distraction to improve memory for face-name associations.. Psychology and Aging, 2018; 33 (1): 158 DOI: 10.1037/pag0000192