I find I’m forgetting a lot lately. And I’ve been thinking a lot about how to expand my memory, in part to recapture some of what I lost after the stroke.

Footprint of Memory
Lorne waterfall and coastal panorama – Footprint of Memory postcard c. 1940
via State Library Victoria

A couple of years ago, when I had a reliable memory, I wrote about Remembering and Forgetting; the difference between intending to remember, and intending to forget. Depending on the memory, each can take as much effort as the other.

Now that I don’t have a realiable memory, I feel like there’s some kind of mythic creature sitting on my shoulder that eats memories. And it seems the important ones are more delicious than the others, so it prefers the important ones.

It would be awesome to be able to effortlessly remember something I thought was important at the end of the day. In the meantime, I have to rush to write it down before something happens and I forget.

I’ve got some experiments lined up to help, from a sheet stuck on the wall, to a calendar, to trying to remember to carry my notebook with me everywhere I go.

Professor Michael Ridding, talking about dementia, suggests that some people have a cognitive reserve that protects them; a lifetime of education or working in cognitively demanding occupations that can protect them from the effects of dementia. It’s what gives your brain the flexibility and adaptability they call plasticity. Taking regular exercise can help, as well as doing crosswords.

So, I guess, maybe, my situation could be worse.

But what else could I be doing?

Well, according to Dr Michael Greger, meat, processed food and sugary drinks aren’t the best things to eat to prevent strokes, whereas fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and green tea are much better. Getting below the obese weight category will help (BMI <30), so I suppose getting into the normal range (<25) would be better.

And getting a good night’s sleep.

It’s a little annoying that it all comes down to eat, sleep and move isn’t it?

As for the rest, I’ll keep you informed. All I need to do now, is remember to pick up my library books.


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