I’ve written several times about the six lifestyle behaviors that impact brain health: exercising regularly, eating right, staying mentally challenged, sleeping well, managing stress, and being social – behaviors that can keep your cognitive engine running smoothly so you can remember where you left that whatchamacallit.
We worry about forgetting names and faces, at least I do, but can you imagine not forgetting anything? You might make thousands on Jeopardy, but wouldn’t you go nuts?
Scott A. Small, MD, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Columbia University and author of Forgetting: The Benefits of Not Remembering suggests that for most people, not only are memory lapses normal, they’re also necessary for the functioning of a healthy brain while also benefiting our cognitive and creative abilities by not interfering with access to new learning or ideas.
Besides the scientific benefits for a healthy brain, imagine how forgetting can have several other more practical benefits. You can enjoy a murder mystery again because you forgot who the culprits were. Or you can eat healthier by placing out of sight the unhealthy foods, you know the ones you really like, so you only see the healthy fruits and vegetables. Out of sight, out of mouth!
But a more serious benefit of forgetting is letting go of painful memories that can affect your emotional and physical well-being. It’s easy to forget where you parked your car, but it isn’t so easy to forget resentments, grudges, and disappointments that can contribute to depression and anxiety. The more we dwell on a hurtful memory or think about the events surrounding the memory, the stronger the neuronal connections become around the memory. But staying social, seeking friendships, and engaging with life can help you forget the hurt from those memories.
As Dr. Small points out, “The ability to forget helps us prioritize, think better, make decisions, and be more creative. Normal forgetting, in balance with memory, gives us the mental flexibility to grasp abstract concepts from a morass of stored information, allowing us to see the forest through the trees.”
So now you no longer need to apologize when you forget your wedding anniversary. You can just explain that you are trying to think better and be more creative by making room in your brain for the important stuff – although you might need to find somewhere else to sleep!
Brain Teaser: If you didn’t know the answer to last week’s teaser, you’re not alone. When I asked a small group of friends, and they were much younger than me, no one knew the answer! But this week you should find this simple math question a little easier. Give it a shot. “How many times can you subtract 5 from 25?”
The country pop duo considered by some as the greatest duo of all time and recorded the 1958 #1 hit “Wake Up Little Susie” was the Everly Brothers. I received correct answers from Bruce Johnson, Mike McFarlane, Lana Tepfer, Donna Mollett, Rhonda Spies, Jess Birge, Deborah Medina, Doug Nelson, Keith and Marlene Clymer, Steven Woolpert, and Mary Pierce whom I missed several weeks ago, but not this week because she’s the winner of this week’s quilt raffle ticket.
When Jackie Gleason starred in his own television variety show from 1952 – 1957, he played many comic characters including Joe the Bartender, Reginald Van Gleason III, and his most famous character, the blustery bus driver Ralph Kramden. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the 1955 – 1956 television show featuring the characters Ralph Kramden, Ed Norton, and their wives Alice and Trixie? Email your answer to email@example.com, call 541-296-4788, or send it with a picture of the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot in Brooklyn.
Well, it has been another week, going around in circles while trying to stay on my feet. Until we meet again, here is one of Roger Rosenblatt’s rules for aging that’s always good to remember. “Just because the person criticizing you is an idiot doesn’t make him wrong.”
“I saw a commercial on late night TV, it said, ‘Forget everything you know about slipcovers,’ so I did, and it was a load off my mind; then the commercial tried to sell me slipcovers, and I didn’t know what the hell they were.” Mitch Hedberg
Nutritious home-delivered and in-person meals are available at noon Monday through Friday unless otherwise noted.
Seniors of Mosier Valley (541-980-1157) – Mondays and Wednesdays; Hood River
Valley Adult Center (541-386-2060); Sherman County Senior and Community Center
(541-565-3191); The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels (541-298-8333)
For meal sites in Washington, call Klickitat County Senior Services – Goldendale office
(509-773-3757) or the White Salmon office (509-493-3068); Skamania County Senior
Answer: Just once, because after you subtract anything from it, it’s not 25 anymore.