“Normal” is a setting on the dryer

David Laschinger

Many of us have joked about having a “Robson moment” – those instances when we can’t think of a word, a name or something else that involves memory recall. It was no surprise that about 85 people attended Andrew Crocker’s talk “Am I Losing My Mind?”, hosted by the Living Well Committee on August 22. Mr. Crocker, who is an Extension Specialist in Gerontology Health with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, provided an informative and humorous 90-minute talk about the brain.

“I am often asked if having memory problems as we get older is normal,” Mr. Crocker said. “I say that normal is a setting on the dryer. In the absence of any disease, medication or other interference, the brain should be able to function optimally no matter what a person’s age,” he reassured us, resulting in a collective sigh of relief. A woman once told him that she thought she might be catching dementia from her husband.

Andrew described the two brain functions, crystalized and fluid intelligence. Crystalized is like muscle memory; for example, driving a car. Fluid intelligence is knowing what to do in certain situations; for example, knowing what streets to take to reach a destination. It’s spontaneous thinking. Fluid intelligence may decline due to lack of use, not age.

Age may cause a lack of motivation and complacency may result. Nowadays, if you look at your calendar and there are no activities planned, you might celebrate. But the lack of stimulus due to inactivity could be detrimental to the brain.

Mr. Crocker explained the three types of memory, sensory, short term and long term, and provided examples. He asked the audience, “How many states in the United States begin with the letter M?” After a few seconds, people started calling out their answer; many were less than the actual number of eight. We all learned the states in grade school and committed the information to long term memory.

What we have learned and experienced during our lifetime remains in our brains, the challenge is recalling them. So, why can’t we recall these when we need them? If you have ever had difficulty recalling something when asked then remember it later, it might be due to the stress of the situation. Crocker said stress reduction (relaxation), a healthy lifestyle, exercise, diet, hydration and adequate sleep are all keys to maintaining optimal brain function.

The three main methods of learning are auditory, visual and kinesthetic which is learning by doing, performing or practicing. “The brain loves repetition,” he said. “Using word association is also useful for some people in recalling names; but be careful. You would not want to blurt out something embarrassing.”

The Living Well Committee organizes a variety of recurring health related activities for Robson residents, seminars, workshops, blood pressure checks, walk-abouts, the farmers market and annual events like the Turkey Trot, Olympics and Firecracker Run. Check the Living Well website www.rrlwc.com to stay current on upcoming events.

All presentations sponsored by the Living Well at Robson Ranch Committee are intended for general information and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice. Neither the LW at RR Committee, RR Denton HOA, nor Robson Communities is responsible or liable for the content and do not endorse any product or service mentioned.