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Improving our Memory

The ability to store and remember information from the past or a recollection of something that has happened; our memory refers to a process that is used to acquire, store, retain, and to later retrieve information.  The processes involved in memory include encoding, storage and retrieval.

Your memory is your brain's filing system. It contains everything you have learned and can store an amazing amount of information. It is our virtual library of information.

There are five main types of memory;
  • Semantic memory – the accumulation of facts and experienced gained over a lifetime
  • Prospective memory - the ability to remember to do something in the future (e.g., remembering to return someone's phone call, or the time and day of your dentist appointment next week)
  • Recent memory - the ability to remember information from minutes, hours, or days ago
  • Remote memory - the ability to remember things that happened years ago
  • Immediate memory - the ability to remember a small amount of information over a few seconds

How does the brain store and retrieve memories? Your brain is made up of 100 billion neurons. As we grow and develop, these neurons are connected to each other, and communicate through thousands of connections; synapses. Memories are formed when certain neuronal connections are strengthened.
Memory ability does change with age. Aging changes the brain and therefore memory ability. This is normal (provided there are no underlying medical conditions) and is referred to as "age-related" memory change.

Staying mentally and physically active seems to be the key to stabilizing memory change with age. A few factors that can positively affect memory change are: physical activity (exercise); mental activity (educational experiences, reading, crosswords, etc.); social activity (new experiences); healthy diet (lower fat and lower cholesterol).

Some factors that affect memory that are not so good would be a person's medical condition and this seems to be the primary factor affecting memory change. Here are just a few medical factors that can negatively affect memory change: medical disorders and diseases (thyroid problems, heart problems, stroke); emotional problems (depression, anxiety); medication (some anti-depressants, some anti-histamines, anti-anxiety and high blood pressure medications);* medical changes (menopause and other hormonal changes); poor diet (high fat, too high cholesterol, too low cholesterol).

Because the human brain is so complicated and has little capacity to regenerate, it is vulnerable to the effects of damage and disease. Losing part of the vast network of cells, or changing the level of a neurotransmitter, can have devastating results. Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases are examples of disorders of the nervous system in which brain cells gradually die. In disorders of the mind, such as schizophrenia and depression, the symptoms are caused by more subtle changes in the brain that are as yet poorly understood.

There are a number of ways that people are trying to improve the process of memory change. There is a Memory Cafe being opened in Watertown, WI that is an informal social gathering where those with dementia and those who support them can gather to enjoy the camaraderie of others with dementia. Another way is through educational material and courses to improve how we relate and care for people with memory disorders.

Pedagogy Education along with authors; Dr. Chris Wolf (Dementia Diagnosis and Treatment: An Overview), Maureen Sullivan (Stroke: An Introduction), Ali Accad (Stress 101), and Debra Collins (Cognitive and Sensory Impairments), are sharing their expertise to educate on the ways to handle and manage many types of memory disorders. Visit Pedagogy to learn more about what they have to offer for health care education.

Pedagogy Blog by Catheryn Peplinski, MBA, RT (R) (M), RDMS, is our Director of Operations and author of Pedagogy online continuing education courses.

Catheryn Peplinski, MBA, RT (R) (M), RDMS, is Director of Operations at Pedagogy Inc. in Troup, Texas. She has earned her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from University of Phoenix, and has a degree in Radiology from Ferris State University. Catheryn is licensed in multiple modalities of Radiology, specializing in High-Risk Obstetrics and genetic testing with over 28 years of experience in diagnostic medicine, education, and management.

Her background includes management and development of clinical practices, education, health care provider in multiple diagnostic procedures, laboratory procedures, surgical assisting, protocol development, accreditation processes, operations, author, and editing/publishing with Pedagogy Inc. She has taught medical students the skills of ultrasound, as well as to nursing staff and radiology and ultrasound students. Catheryn has successfully produced educational material for continuing education and student development. Catheryn has a deep passion to help others with strong beliefs in service oriented philosophies to give to those less fortunate.

She has been blessed with the opportunity to participate in a medical mission trip to Guatemala with her children to gain the appreciation of field medicine and sharing of their talents. She has written multiple news articles and blogs for Pedagogy as well as an infusion based class for Radiology Nursing Professionals.

Posted: 10/15/2013 11:30:42 AM
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