Managing Your Memory: Practical Solutions for Forgetting

Managing Your Memory: Practical Solutions for Forgetting

by Bill E. Beckwith, Bill Beckworth


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An Unforgettable Book About Memory

   Noted memory expert, Dr. Bill Beckwith shares his years of experience with an intriguing overview of how your memory works; insights inot what causes you to forget, and common sense advice on how you can improve your memory.

   For anyone who has experienced senior moments or been overwhelmed by information, Dr. Beckwith outlines effective strategies for enhancing your memory. He clearly helps you distinguish between the effects of normal aging and memory loss. He then focuses on ways you can improve your memory ranging from the effects of memory aids to medications, supplements, and food to controlling emotions and planning for your future... All the things you can do to protect your memory and your lifestyle.

   Managing Your Memory: Practical Solutions for Forgetting will help you answer the following questions:
   � What techniques work to better manage the efficiency of your memory?
   � What are 10 steps to take to imporve your memory?
   � What are the benefits of life stories and life review?
   � What are the 10 things you can do to decrease forgetting?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780974837918
Publisher: Memory Management
Publication date: 12/01/2004
Pages: 194
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

General Rules for Managing Memory

Anything given less than one minute of thought will fade from your memory.
- Douglas Herrmann, author of Super Memory (1990)

Before turning to specific techniques that help reduce the memory flaws of transience, absentmindedness, and blocking, let's consider some general rules that assist us in understanding and managing our memory. These rules are not shortcuts to a better memory. However, by attending to these principles, you can better manage your efforts to increase the timing and efficiency of your mental activity to better take in and recall information. The next chapter provides the specific techniques that focus your efforts on remembering.

RULE ONE: Memory Loss Cannot Be Cured
An issue keeps coming up in the professional as well as the popular press about memory. The issue is whether or not "mental aerobics" or mental stimulation improves memory and/or prevents memory decline. As reviewed earlier, memory is a complex and varied set of skills. Therefore, one cannot logically ask the general question of whether mental exercises improve "memory." Instead, the question needs to be asked relative to the kind of memory one wishes to improve. The answer to this question is different for the various kinds of memory reviewed in chapter 3: sensory, primary/working, short-term, and long-term memory.

Does practice or mental exercise strengthen sensory memory? As you may recall, sensory memory is the system that persists for only a part of a second (for example, the amount of time that you can hold the word you are currently reading before the next word displaces it). There are no exercises or types of stimulation of which I am aware that can strengthen sensory memory.

Does practice or mental exercise strengthen primary memory? Primary memory is the memory we use to remember a phone number before dialing it. It has an upper limit of information that can be held at any one time, which is about seven pieces of information. Primary memory remains active as long as we continue to rehearse or repeat these seven pieces of information. But primary memory is subject to interference by other information, such as an intrusive thought or the phone ringing. Practice and exercise cannot add capacity to this memory; it has only seven slots for most of us. But we may find ways to consolidate information to increase the data in each of those seven spaces. For example, we can "chunk" information. If we are trying to use this system to hold a phone number, we can take advantage of common prefixes, such as remembering that all numbers at work start with the prefix 454. This uses only one of the slots rather than seven, so we have two extra slots with this technique. We can also make use of patterns to help make primary memory more efficient. For example, the numbers 1234 or 2468 are easier to recall than is the number 9253 because the former can be more easily grouped by a pattern, thereby opening up more of the slots available. In short, cleverness can make more efficient use of the seven spaces, but exercise does not make primary memory stronger.

Does practice or mental exercise strengthen short-term memory? This is the memory system that keeps information for minutes to hours. It is the system that manages, sorts, and manipulates information. Short-term memory is also the process or system that permits consolidation or storage of information into long-term memory. This is the memory system that is impaired in disorders of memory such as Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer's disease. As discussed in previous chapters, weakness in short-term memory produces anterograde amnesia, making it difficult to learn new information. Unfortunately, this memory system does not function like a muscle, which increases in strength with repetition or practice. Therefore, mental stimulation and mental exercises do not make short-term memory stronger. Many suggest that exercises such as learning to write with your nondominant hand or learning to do crossword puzzles will improve your memory or prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. However, short-term memory does not respond to exercising it any more than we can strengthen our eyesight by not wearing our glasses.

But mental exercises and stimulation do strengthen long-term memory. The "use it or lose it" principle clearly applies to long-term and procedural memory but does not work for short-term memory. While short-term memory can't be improved, the good news is that it can be managed through the use of specific techniques that will be discussed in the next chapter.

Table of Contents



  1. How's Your Memory Hygiene?                                                
  2. Common Questions about Memory                                        
  3. What is Memory, Anyway?                                                    
  4. Normal Changes in Efficiency of Memory as We Age              
  5. Things That Increase Forgetting                                            
  6. Common Examples of Memory Failure                                   
  7. Autobiographical and Long-Term Memory:
          Who Am I and What Are My Skills                                    
  8. General Rules for Managing Your Memory                             
  9. Techniques That Work to Manage Memory                            

PART II    WHAT IS MEMORY LOSS?                                            

  10. Mild Cognitive Impairment                                                  
  11. Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia                                   


  12. Manage Your Biology:
          Medications, Supplements, and Foods                            
  13. Managing Emotions                                                          
  14. Managing Your Future Today                                             
  15. Final Comments on Putting It All Together                        

References and Bibliography                                                       
About the Author                                                                        

What People are Saying About This

Debbie Watts

"I have finished your book and enjoyed it very much. I liked your thought that normal aging does not mean disability. It was good to learn that many of the things I have done to keep myself organized also help to manage short term memory and will become even more important as I age. One tip that I plan to implement the next time I'm reading a book with a complicated plot is to write the names of the characters and important facts in the front of the book as they appear in the story. I have noticed over the years that I have more difficulty keeping the characters straight."

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Managing Your Memory 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found in reading Dr. Beckwith¿s book easily understood information about how memory works, the different types of memory disorders and signs to watch for that may indicate a problem with memory other than normal aging. The book also offers practical tips and strategies for remembering as well as factors to consider that may help protect our memory. I think this book may offer a sense of hope for individuals facing the challenges of coping with a memory disorder through information and insights about how to manage the effects of short-term memory loss. Dr. Beckwith introduces the reader to various useful memory aids and strategies for remembering and how important it is to implement these habits early in the process of short-term memory loss. I consider this book to be a very useful guide for anyone of any age who just wants to understand how memory works or who wants to improve and protect his or her ability to remember. The book also presents easily achievable tactics that individuals with memory loss and their caregivers can put into action to maintain a consistent quality of life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Beckwith's book Managing Your Memory, has not only provided me with professional insights, but has touched me on a personal note. As a career development and transition coach, I assist people with a detailed review of their career progression. Managing Your Memory has given me the answers to many questions I receive about people not being able to remember critical details of their job history. Dr. Beckwith has given me tangible ideas to assist my clients in maximizing their memory. This will help them to provide details of their past to help them build a new future. On a personal note, Dr. Beckwith has presented a chapter on 'Life Review' for the creation of life memoirs. Having just lost my last living relative of the previous generation, it substantiated for me the importance of doing this 'Life Review' while we can still recall the details of our personal history. The constructive suggestions that Dr. Beckwith gives us for creating our memoirs were one of the highlights of the book for me. This is a 'must read' for anyone who is getting older and wants to have their special moments live on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an extraordinary guide to helping one overcome and deal with memory loss, whether it is becoming a major problem or just garden variety forgetting. MANAGING YOUR MEMORY is also a common sense and practical instructional handbook to aid the Baby Boomers in understanding and preparing ourselves for the ever increasing 'senior moments'. Not only has this book been helpful to me but it has also been a wonderful tool in supporting my 91 year old mother. I owe you, Dr. Beckwith. I now can remember where I put down my damn reading glasses!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our memories should be especially taxed during our youth when it is the strongest and most tenacious according to Arthur Schopenhauer. Dr. Beckwith's practical solutions for forgetting helped me understand the other part of the memory equation, namely we forget that we forget. Derived from many years of clinical experience, Beckwith skillfully juxtapositions management with ever-day practical solutions, and memory with forgetting. Great care is given to considering normal changes along the aging continuum. Even greater care is dedicated to distinguishing multiple stages of cognitive impairment and dementia. Dr.Beckwith consistently drives home the importance of planning ahead, the sooner the better, to leave a legacy of what is really important to you, the reader, to enhance the joys of living. This information will assist the caregiver. And when you're the caregiver, Beckwith suggests strategies to smooth the way along the journey of cognitive impairment. Mark Twain's quote on memory: 'when I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.' The truth is, Managing Your Memory puts some perspective into the fact that when we were young we were able to do as we liked and to go wherever we wanted to go. But, when we are old(er), we will stretch out our hand, and others will direct us and perhaps take us where we don't want to go. Dr. Beckwith puts it all together for us in a brief, tightly written final chapter. Do yourself a favor get started today Managing Your Memory.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, personally and professionally. The simplified desciption of the different types of memory and how they work lays down the framework for understanding what is normal aging process and what is not. Also that there are steps that we can take to enhance one's future. I was glad to see that I already employ some 'healthy' memory habits, yet there are others that I can start to practice now to help my memory as I age. This book has been very helpful in my clinical practice as it gives clients and their families badly needed additional information to absorb at their own pace.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a senior professional who was having some trouble remembering recent events, Dr. Beckwith's book, Managing Your Memory, has been a very helpful and enjoyable read. His Peg method became chairs in my home. They are filled with the necessary 'things' of everyday living that I need to remember. I don't always need to use the method, but it is very helpful to see the watermelon in the porch chair when I know there is something else to remember while shopping. The single-idea keychain helps find my car at the airport. The palm-top calendar and appointment record are making the changes in my memory more a challange and less a disability. Dr. Beckwith's book on Memory has provided the understanding, the direction and the tools to make recall of recent events a work in progress for me. I recommend it highly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Beckwith presents a practical, down-to-earth view of memory that is not medically oriented. He presents tips on how to reduce senior moments and how to use your memory to successfully age. His approach is practical, gentle, and hopeful. I feel so much better after reading his book as I realize my memory is normal for someone in her early 50s and I now know what to do if I ever worry about my memory. I am especially skilled at using lists and I understand what an asset that is for my memory as I grow older. I recommend Dr. Beckwith's book to anyone who has ever had a memory lapse.