Although not all people suffer from it, memory impairment and other types of cognitive impairment are common consequences of aging, especially when it is pathological.
In this article we will describe eight types of strategies for memory loss which can be very useful in compensating for the deterioration typical of old age. We will divide them into three categories: external aid, internal strategies and environmental adaptations.
The decline of memory in old age
Scientific research suggests that we tend to overestimate the intensity of memory worsening that occurs in old age, although it is true that some abilities are clearly affected. This occurs especially in people with cognitive impairment, whether or not they are supervised in the context of dementia.
According to studies, with aging, sensory memory suffers from a slight deterioration which is not very important in practice. Working or operational memory if it is significantly affected, Especially from 70 years old; the deterioration of this type of memory is probably the most severe of all.
When it comes to long-term memory, deficits appear more frequently in the declarative type than in procedural memory, so the skills are generally maintained. Recent episodic memory, which includes autobiographical memories of recent years, is more susceptible to deterioration than semantics (knowledge of facts).
These deteriorations have been attributed mainly to three reasons: the appearance of deficits in coding complex information, This makes memorization difficult, the ability to retrieve memories worsened, and the lesser sense of control over cognitive tasks, thus lowering the efficiency expectations of many older people.
Memory losses that appear in old age can be compensated for through the use of cognitive, behavioral and environmental strategies. In cases where the mnemonic deficiency is mild, these techniques are usually sufficient to negate their effects; if the situation is more serious, they can at least reduce the problems to a remarkable degree.
Strategies against memory loss based on external aids
The use of external aids for the recovery of memories is the most important strategy to compensate for memory loss that arise in old age. Many people resort to these methods spontaneously.
1. External recovery
External recovery strategies include taking notes in a notebook or journal, asking a loved one to remind us of something, or using digital devices (for example, setting an alarm with text) to make it easier to remember. specific information. Recent technological advances have increased the utility and variety of these strategies.
2. Internal recovery
Unlike external recovery strategies, in these cases a signal is used to remember something, but we do not specify what; changing a ring or making a small mark on your hand with a pen are two common external recovery techniques.
Internal or psychological strategies
The internal strategies to fight against memory problems are based on the management of cognitions. They are considered the most specific intervention in psychology in this field and are frequently included in training programs for the elderly with memory deficits.
This subcategory encompasses all cognitive strategies that people naturally possess; they are part of the normal functioning of memory and do not require prior training.
2. Mnemonic rules
The mnemonic rules are artificial cognitive methods used to promote learning, The organization and memory of information. Some of the more well-known mnemonic strategies include the loci (or places) method, pole method, link method, and rhyme method, which are based on mental words and / or images.
Environmental adaptations and indications
These strategies consist of facilitate orientation and a sense of familiarity with the physical environment of people who are in a certain place. In this sense, we can speak both of the house itself and of a larger context, for example a residence for the elderly and even a locality.
Distal environmental cues are a type of adaptation that refers to the acclimatization of cities, streets, or buildings to encourage people with memory problems to orient themselves there. In this set of aids we find the indications on the doors on how to open them, the uniforms of the hospital staff, etc.
Proximal aids are those that are framed in a more restricted environment, such as a room or a small apartment. They are based on the principle that the structuring and stability of the immediate environment of the populations with mnemonic difficulties, they allow them to orient themselves more easily and reduce the probability that they will suffer losses.
Personal environmental indications can be considered a type of external help and therefore may depend on internal or external recovery; that means they can be self-explanatory, like leaving a note in a notebook, or just acting as signs that something specific needs to be remembered.
4. Reality Orientation Therapy
Reality Orientation Therapy was created by James Folsom in the 1950s. This psychological program focuses on teaching skills that empower the patient. maintain personal, spatial and temporal orientation. Strategies that include external visual aids, sensory stimulation, and verbal repetition.