Each year I judge my “real” age by how I am able to perform at camp.  I don’t mean just physically but also mentally.  Because my family has been greatly effected by dementia, I’ve done a good deal of study on the brain as it relates to getting older.  I’ve learned that what is good for the heart is good for the brain.

I exercise almost every day for an hour.  This is divided into 40 minutes of arobic, 10 minutes of strength training and 10 of stretching and flexiblity.  I also understand that much of a person’s mental and physical strength depends on their health.  Strokes and heart conditions greatly limit a person’s physical and mental capacities.

In truth I purposely push myself at camp.  Five days of grueling exercise is a good gage of what the next year may hold regarding my stamina.  I figure it’s cheaper than going to a physical fitness camp or pay a coach to determine my physical abilities.  Each year I find ways that I must retrain my body.  

This year, I discovered that I had a difficult time packing luggage into the van we were using on our trip home.   It was not because I couldn’t lift the luggage but because I wasn’t able to maintain a bend position for the length of time the task demanded.  This year, I’ll be walking with my back bend at the waist each day to strengthen those weak muscles.

I also found that holding in my mind one thought or task that needed to be done was more difficult than it had been in the past.  With fifteen things that needed to be done all at one time, it is essential to keep a mental priority list going all the time.  I think I’ve let my brain get sloppy in this area. 

I’ve read that this is one of the drawbacks of an older brain.  The ability to maintain a list of tasks in your brain becomes more difficult.  It isn’t that the brain is defective.  It only means that the older brain thinks differently.  Keeping a list becomes an essential for an older adult.  Fortunately, as a child, I found that writing on the palm of my hand is a handy and portable way to keep a list.  I used my palm list a lot during the weekend.

In truth, keeping more than one thought going has never been a strong ability for me.  My husband has graciously told me that he believes that my concentration on one task has enabled me to accomplish more tasks in the long run.  Not sure that true but I took the compliment anyway.

Other than making lists, the professionals don’t seem to have any mnemonic tricks that will enable you to keep thoughts stuck in your mind.  What about you?  Have you found some little tid bit of information that helps you use  your brain in a more efficient way?  Comments and suggestions are welcomed!