Coaching for those Senior Moments
Wednesday, August 17, 2016 31 Comments
Age-related Mind Blips?
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reflections on memory before moving on with help
When your mind is like a steel sieve
It’s bad enough when we can’t recall a name in the middle of an introduction. It’s worse when we can’t remember where we put our keys when we’re running late — and so embarrassing when our minds drive right by birthdays and anniversaries.
We feel scatterbrained when we have to go back into the house several times to check that we turned off the lights, locked the back door, or unplugged the iron.
We feel stupid when we forget a basic fact we haven’t pulled out of our mental databases for a while – like how to divide fractions or figure percentages, or the spelling of a common word, for example.
We worry that we might be getting SENILE when we can’t recall entire events – like going to see a specific film with a certain person who is absolutely positive we were there with them, perplexed when we still don’t remember once they supply details to support their case.
If we don’t remember seeing the film at all, we begin to worry about incipient Alzheimer’s!
Memory lapses are not limited to those middle-aged mind-blips science sometimes calls “age-related cognitive decline.” It’s also awful when a student’s mind goes blank when s/he’s taking an exam after studying diligently for several nights in a row.
Can’t Remember Stuff !
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The Heartbreak Of CRS
We ALL fall victim to CRS many times throughout our lives – more and more often as we age.
- Opportunities for advancement and success have been lost to CRS.
- CRS can devastate self-esteem when it rears its ugly head too often.
- Relationships come unglued when CRS is chronic.
The real heartbreak of CRS, however, is that we will never be successful, professionally or personally, unless we are able to stay in action toward our goals! If we can’t remember to DO what we intended to do, when we intended to do it, how can we possibly expect to stay in action?
- All of us have times when we are so distracted by other events in our lives that we don’t take the time to write it down – even the important stuff.
- THEN there are the times when we aren’t focused enough on our game plans to remember to check our reminders – like the notations in our Date Books, or the post-it notes we sprinkled around the house to make sure we didn’t forget an important event.
What’s going on?
- Are we too befuddled to understand what’s appropriate or necessary?
- Does it mean we don’t take our goals seriously — or that we are unconsciously sabotaging ourselves?
- Maybe it means we have unconscious conflicts, or fear of failure. Maybe its fear of success! Or perhaps we’re just plain LAZY.
Or maybe, just maybe, “memory” is a factor of a of attention and focus. I would like to make a case for the fact that it IS.
What IS Memory, anyway?
When we think about human memory loss, what is it that we think we’re losing?
You may have read somewhere that memory is our ability to store, retain, and recall information. While that is certainly correct, the kind of information we utilize memory to store, retain and recall, along with the processes our brain uses to “remember” are more complex and comprehensive than most of us realize. And it matters!
When we “can’t remember” – when only one component of memory fails us (recall on demand) – it is not really the same as when we “forget.” For most of us with CRS, the information we are trying to “remember” hasn’t been lost, we just can’t seem to recall it when we need it.
- It is still stored somewhere in that brain of ours, and we probably will recall it later (once we no longer need it, right?)
- It’s just that our cognitive file clerk is unable to locate it the moment we ask for it.
The Memory Process
The first step in getting a handle on memory is understanding that memory is a process, each step dependent on the other, beginning with awareness.
Getting it IN
- Events must be registered – stored in your memory banks – for you to be able to access the information later.
- Unless our brains determine that the content is relevant to our being, they never pass it along from short term memory buffers to the storage tanks.
- In other words, your brain makes a decision to store or the item is no more a part of your memory than exactly where you once parked your car on an uneventful trip to a store where you usually shop.
- Unless something causes us to focus on an event as it occurs, there is no neurological awareness that a decision to store might be a good idea.
Which means that unless you were consciously aware that you saw it, heard it, felt it, tasted it, or consciously generated the information internally (as with a thought or an action), for YOU, the event didn’t “happen.”
In other words, you could never be expected to “remember” the event, because, as far as your conscious awareness is concerned, your brain can’t locate evidence that it ever occurred.
In addition, the information must be linked for retrieval – which means it must not only be stored in your memory banks, it must be linked in a manner that the information can be accessed when it is requested
Getting it Back OUT
The process of memory storage is an extremely important part of the equation, of course, but it’s not enough to focus our energies on keeping our ability to store information strong and vital.
We need to understand how to be able to retrieve the information reliably for our “memory” to be of any use to us.
If our brain’s librarian can’t locate what we ask it for when it comes time to USE the information, what good is it?
So before we explore the process of moving information into long-term memory storage, let’s take a look at the ways in which our “neuro-librarians” deliver what we’re looking for once it is stored there.
Remembering is more than an act of cognitive consciousness
Unless trained otherwise, the “regurgitation” portion of the memory process is a factor of, essentially, three different processes that are primarily unconscious:
- recall, and
- recall on demand
Remembering means Registration and Recall
In order to be able to “remember” anything, the event must have been:
- Registered by your brain
- Stored in your brain’s “memory banks,” and
- Linked in such a way that it is
- Retrievable on demand
Any technique that increases our ATTENTION on an element we know we will expect to recall later increases the likelihood that our expectations won’t be frustrated. And that’s where brain-based coaching is golden – professional or peer.
- The more we pay attention to paying attention, the sharper THAT skill becomes, which means that “remembering” becomes easier and more reliable as time goes by.
- BUT, not all techniques work equally well for everyone – which far too many so-called “memory experts” don’t seem to know, understand or believe.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
- Unless we understand ourselves – sherlocking our own functioning, what works best for us and what doesn’t work (or isn’t worth the struggle to force it to work) – attempting to use “sure-bet memory enhancing techniques” not only are unlikely to work well for US, they will probably have the opposite effect.
- We’ll stop trying to remember, concluding that we are “broken” in some manner that can’t be fixed. And that’s a crying shame!
With a little bit of help and relevant information from a comprehensively trained brain-based coach we can ALL improve our functioning in just about any arena we choose – including memory.
Signing up for Peer Coaching Basic Training will help you jump-start the process in a cost-effective, group-coaching manner.
This post is one of a series of articles on the link between attention, focus, activation and memory — pre-publication content from my new book on Intentional Attending,™ soon to be out as an eBook and TeleClass series. Sign up for blog notification if you want to get the information while it’s free!
MEANWHILE, check out the articles in the Peer Coaching Basic Training Series for information about a low-cost group TeleClass alternative to my Professional Coaching.
As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Memory, Coaching, or Peer Coaching Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy
IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.
Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series, click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)
Related articles right here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
(in case you missed them above)
- Got Memory?
- Juggling Invisible Balls
- Maintaining Cognitive Vitality
- Remembrance of Selves Past
- How come the bad stuff sticks and the good stuff fades??
- Forgetting and Remembering Part I: When Memory Fails
- Awareness is a Factor of Attention (more on memory)
Related Articles ’round the ‘net
- Stereotypes about aging can hurt older adults’ memory, but there’s an easy fix
- Memory Loss and Cognitive Issues
- Elders use brain networks differently for short-term recall
- Am I having a “senior moment” or am I losing my memory?
- Dismissing ‘senior moments’ may actually make your memory worse
- Could Flavanols Reverse Age-Related Memory Decline?
- Middle-age-plus memory decline may just be a matter of changing focus
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