Memory improvement is possible

11 Oct


Memory does become more difficulty with age. Memory decline is real and part of our lives. But we need not be complacent or defeatist.

We would not expect our older bodies to have the same athletic prowess as in our twenties. Yet despite our physical decline we still see the value in exercise. Exercise slows the pace of aging and is protective against many of the forces of mortality. Exercise will not give us unending youth, but it will improve the quality of our lives. The message of this blog is that the use of memory strategies and memory training can produce real benefits.

We can continue to learn and even improve our memories into old age, we can stave off or, at least moderate, many of the cognitive effects of the aging process. Just like physical exercise it will take a commitment to regular daily work, but the pay offs are high and it is worth the effort.

Lest you think this claim is hyperbole. Let me give you the example of Akira Haraguchi who at age 61 set the world record for memorizing digits of pi; he successfully recited 100,000 digits in 16.5 hours. The digit sequence of pi is random with no order or known pattern.  Haraguchi says of himself: “I’m certainly no genius, I’m just an ordinary old guy.” In addition, Haraguchi believes that memory can actually improve with age:

“When you are young, you look at the sky and think it’s a nice day. Then you might think, “I might as well go driving.” When you grow older, however, you start observing the sunlight and its reflection on leaves. You develop the ability to imagine more, which helps you associate things . . . A whole new different way of memorizing things becomes available when you get older.”

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