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Head Games:
Mind, Memory and Mnemonic Devices.

by Heidi Nestor, Writer and Editor, Life Alert

You go into another room to get something and forget what it is you wanted; you knew you had to be somewhere at a certain time but can’t remember where, what, when or with whom; and where did you put that darn TV remote?

I don�t live alone. I have Life Alert.

Are these the signs of Alzheimer's?  Probably not, it could just be standard memory loss due to aging and environment.  But did you know that one of the biggest culprits of basic memory loss is STRESS, and did you know that this kind of memory loss may be prevented?

Some may think daily stress gets reduced after the kids are grown and out of the house, and you settle into retirement.   Unfortunately, that is not true.  For many, a whole new batch of issues can arise challenging the post 50 generation, including one’s own family. 

More and more elders are helping raise their grandchildren, however, taking care of children while in your 60s and 70s if far more stressful than in your 20s and 30s mostly due to lack of energy and agility.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

Grandmothers caring for or raising grandchildren suffer more stress and depression than grandmothers who aren't caregivers. These are older women who may have health needs of their own.1

The article goes on to say that the age of the grandchildren can be a factor, too. Younger children are more physically demanding, whereas, older children are often more emotionally and mentally demanding.   

It’s important not to play head games with your limitations; you must take care of yourself first before you can be of any use to another.  You may want to start cutting back time spent with grandchildren, or let others know you need some extra help in taking care of them.  Reducing family stress may improve your mental state and memory capacity.

Another big stress factor is not having enough money in your retirement years.  This can be due to an uncertain economy, stock market crashes, or just the inability to save enough to match the rise of inflation.

Dr. Kathleen Hall, stress expert and founder of the Mindful Living Network told the Huffington Post that she attributes post 50 year olds high stress levels to the uncertainty of life, “There is insecurity about the economic situation which increases stress, individually and in a family.”2

Although you may not be able to control the world economy, you can control how you react to it. Creating memory loss by stressing over your financial situation is no way to live.
Instead, go for a walk.

The National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has completed an important study attesting the benefits physical activity has on improving memory.  They confirm that physical activity for older adults benefits the brain and that walking can actually increase the volume of certain parts of the brain involved in memory.  Their research included 120 elderly volunteers who did not have dementia but were also inactive. Half of the group was to walk 40 minutes a day, three days a week for a year while the other “controlled” groups only did toning and stretching exercises. 

After 12 months, the study suggested that:

The group that walked showed an average 2% growth in the hippocampus compared with when they began, while the control groups suffered a more than 1% shrinkage in the same region compared with when the study started.3

Is it because endorphins are released with physical exercise? Who knows? But a 2% brain volume growth is nothing to forget about.

Another good way to reduce stress and exercise your mind is with games and mnemonic devices.  Remember when you were a kid?  You and your friends would play games like Jacks, Cards, Jump Rope, and of course most everyone’s favorite, Hide-and-Go-Seek.  Well, did you know that while you were having fun playing games you were actually exercising your mind.

Ironically, right around the time we stop playing games, 30-ish, the human brain starts to decline. However, according to Paul Laurienti, M.D., Ph.D., a brain researcher at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, the human brain can rebuild itself. "We used to think that with age, brain cells shriveled up, died, and that was that," Laurienti says. "Now we know that even older brains can grow new, stronger connections."4

Use it or lose it, is basically what Laurienti discovered as growing evidence suggests daily use of your mind whether it be at home, in the office, playing an instrument or games like Monopoly and puzzles may build extra brain connections.5  However, there is a caveat in that you must be consistent in doing this.  So there you have it, doctor’s orders are to play games often and consistently in order to have a strong mind and memory.

Lastly, aging in place can also be good for one’s memory and mental health. The home may be where the heart is but it is also where one’s memories are.  A simple picture on a wall, knick-knacks on a table, or just knowing where the linen closet is are all devices that can trigger the memory.  More importantly, staying in one’s own home gives the elderly a sense of freedom and independence which enforces strong mental abilities and memories.  Having senior citizen age in place safely is easy with Life Alert Protection.  One touch of the emergency button can send help fast, 24/7, for any home emergency.  In addition, having Life Alert is less expensive than moving into a retirement home, with the cost of service being just pennies a day lessoning the economic stress of retirement.  Having that kind of protection at one’s fingertips provides peace of mind for a healthy mental outlook.

1 "Alzheimer's Disease." Weblog post. Centers for Disease Control. N.p., 25 July 2014. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.

2 "Reduce Stress For A Worry-Free Life Post 50." Weblog post. Post 50. Huffington Post, 26 Apr. 2013. Web. 10 Oct. 16.

3 Park, Alice. "Want to Improve Your Memory? Try Taking a Walk |" Time. Time, 31 Jan. 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

4 Harrar, Sari. "Best Memory-Boosting Games." WebMD. WebMD, 12 Dec. 2007. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

5 Harrar, Sari. "Best Memory-Boosting Games." WebMD. WebMD, 12 Dec. 2007. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

The information provided above is, to the best of our knowledge, reliable and accurate. However, while Life Alert always strives to provide true, precise and consistent information, we cannot guarantee 100 percent accuracy. Readers are encouraged to research any statements made and use any resource links provided to gather more information before drawing conclusions and making decisions.
For more information about the Life Alert system and its many benefits for seniors as well as younger adults nationwide, please visit the following websites:








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