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Old 01-12-2022   #1321
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Very Bad Reception, Part 21
Canada, Lazy/Unhelpful, Medical Office, Quebec, Reception | Healthy | January 18, 2018
(There is a small medical clinic where I live. Usually, for walk-in patients, you get to the door very early, wait until they open it, then head for the desk, where you are assigned an appointment time for the day depending on the order of arrival. Usually, people behave and do not jump forward. Rarely, but sometimes, the clinic isn’t full, and going in mid-morning, you might still get a spot. It’s about 11, and I feel I might have a feminine infection. I stop by the clinic to see if there’s room.)

Secretary: “I’m sorry. There’s a new phone system in place. Now you have to call in the morning and leave your name and phone number. Someone will call you back with the time of your appointment.”

Me: “Well, I’m right here. Can’t you just give me a time?”

Secretary: “No, you have to call.”

Me: “Okay, fine.”

(I make two steps to the side, pick up my cellphone, take the card she gave me with the phone number, and start dialing. The secretary looks at me.)

Secretary: “What are you doing?”

Me: “Calling for an appointment. You said I absolutely had to call.”

Secretary: “Ugh… Okay, I’ll give you one.”

(I believe she suddenly realized that I would have left my info on the answering machine, that she would have listen to it, then call me back with the time, all while I was standing in front of her.)
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Old 01-12-2022   #1322
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Very Bad Reception, Part 20
Music | Working | April 21, 2017
(I work at a market research firm. Part of my job involves calling the manufacturers of high-tech devices to interview them. Some of the companies I call are very large, and others are quite small family firms. Some of the smaller companies have local radio stations on instead of hold music. Usually these are country music stations with ads about farm equipment. One time though

Me: “Hello, this is [My Name] calling from [Company]. Could I be connected with [Project Manager], please?”

Receptionist: “Sure thing. Please hold.”

Me: “Okay.”

Hold Music: *really loud gangsta rap* “MY MONEY AND MY HOES!”

(I started laughing so hard I had to hang up and call back again.)
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Old 01-12-2022   #1323
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Very Bad Reception, Part 19
Bosses & Owners, Jerk, Lazy/Unhelpful, Office, Spouses & Partners, UK | Working | November 27, 2017
Receptionist: “Hello, [Business].”

Me: “Hi. Could I please speak to [Manager], please?”

Receptionist: *click*

(I phone again, thinking I was just disconnected by accident.)

Receptionist: “Hello, [Business].”

Me: “Hi, I think—”

Receptionist: *click*

(Knowing she actually cut me off this time, I phone back again.)

Receptionist: “Hello, [Business].”

Me: “Why do you keep cutting me off?!”

Receptionist: “Because this is a cold call, and I’m told to hang up on them.”

Me: “Actually, I’m [Manager]’s husband, and I’d like to speak to him.”

Receptionist: “Yeah, right!” *laughing* “I’ve met his wife.” *click*

(Having had enough, I decide to just drive down.)

Receptionist: *smiling brightly* “Hello, welcome to [Business]. How can I help you?”

Me: “I’d like to speak to [Manager].”

Receptionist: “What reason do you have to speak to him? Do you have an appointment?”

Me: “I’m his husband, and no.”

(She realises who I am and sneers.)

Receptionist: *sarcastically* “Really? You’re that desperate?”

(Coincidently, my husband happens to walk by.)

Husband: “[My Name]? What are you doing here?”

Receptionist: “You know this degenerate?” *smugly* “I was just about to have him removed.”

Husband: “What? Why? He’s my husband!”

(The receptionist blushes and we stand in awkward silence for a few seconds.)

Me: *to the receptionist* “You want to explain?”

(The receptionist stammered through her explanation, with me inserting her claim that he had a wife after she neglected to mention it. My husband actually found it hilarious. She isn’t allowed near the phones anymore, though.)
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Old 01-12-2022   #1324
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This Person Is Such A Headache
Bad Behavior, Coworkers, Criminal & Illegal, Emergency Services, Health & Body, Office, Stupid, UK | Healthy | January 26, 2018
(A coworker has been on blood-thinning medication for the past couple of months. She isn’t allowed to have other medication that has the same effect, namely aspirin.)

Coworker: “I have such a headache. Does anyone have anything I can take?”

(We all say no, so she resorts to searching through the desks of people who are on holiday. She finally finds some.)

Coworker: “Perfect!”

Me: “Um, shouldn’t you try something else? You aren’t allowed aspirin, remember?”

Coworker: “It’s only two tablets! What harm will it do?”

(She disappears before I can protest further, and comes back with a glass of water, having taken them on the way back. She surreptitiously takes another two a few hours later, and I protest yet again. She goes to the printer and comes back screaming.)

Coworker: “I’ve got a paper cut and it won’t stop bleeding!”

(I see that she is actually applying a lot of pressure on the cut, causing it to stay open.)

Me: “Maybe if you ease up on it, it’ll stop.”

Coworker: “No, you idiot! You do that to stop the flow. Oh, my God, I’m dying! Why did you make me take those d*** pills?!”

(We called an ambulance for her, and the second the paramedics arrived, they loosened her grip and the wound closed within a couple of minutes. She spent the entire time accusing us of trying to kill her, and demanded the paramedics phone the police for “force-feeding her death-pills.” We had to explain the situation, as the paramedics thought she was under some sort of narcotic, and they decided to take her to the hospital to make sure the medication wasn’t wreaking havoc on her blood. When she came back into work the next day, she went straight to our manager and launched a formal complaint. We all needed to give statements, and it was decided that if we are going to bring medication to work, we need to ensure it is secure. [Coworker] was put on temporary leave after we revealed in our statements that she actually went looking for the medication in someone else’s belongings, something she failed to mention in her complaint.)
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Old 01-12-2022   #1325
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Time To Prescribe Some Common Sense
Chicago, Ignoring & Inattentive, Illinois, Insurance, USA | Healthy | January 26, 2018
(I have been put on a prescription by my doctor. As I am not particularly fond of the modern designer drug industry, my prescription is something that has been on the market for over 50 years. As such, it is very cheap. After I have been using it for four or five months, my insurance company calls me.)

Me: “Hello?”

Agent: “Hello, this is [Agent] from [Insurance Company] calling. Is this [My Name]?”

Me: “Yes. What can I do for you?”

Agent: “I would like to tell you about our fantastic prescription drug plan! You can get regular shipments of your medications every three months, which will save you money. Here’s how it works…” *drones on whilst I try to interrupt*

Me: “Ma’am?”

Agent: *continues script*

Me: “Ma’am?”

Agent: *continues script*

Me: “Ma’am?”

Agent: “Yes?”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m on exactly one prescription, which costs exactly one dollar and seventy-six cents per month, including tax. Nobody else in the house has any other prescriptions.”

Agent: “Oh.”

Me: “I doubt you can save me any money on of that one.”

Agent: *laughing* “You’re right; we probably can’t. Thank you for your patience!”
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Old 01-12-2022   #1326
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Getting To The Root Of The Issue
Denmark, Dentist, Parents/Guardians, Stupid | Healthy | January 24, 2018
(My dad’s a dentist and I am at his office to pick him up after work because his car is in the shop. His last patient for the day is a little boy of about seven, and the moment I get in I can hear the parents yelling at him.)

Mother: “What do you mean his teeth are rotten?! They can’t be!”

My Dad: “Madam, your son has an extreme case of tooth decay, which is why he’s been having terrible tooth pains. I can possibly mend some of them, but he’ll probably have to have the majority of them pulled.”

Mother: “I can’t believe this. How could this happen?”

My Dad: “Well, does he eat a lot of candy?”

Mother: “He doesn’t eat sugar.”

My Dad: “Do you give him anything at night?”

Mother: “Yes, we give him honey.”

(They got super angry with my dad when he told them that was why their kid had bad teeth.)
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Old 01-12-2022   #1327
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The Crap That Comes Out Of Your Mouth
Arizona, Pets & Animals, Revolting, USA, Vet | Healthy | January 24, 2018
(We have just finished working with a cat who was so scared of being at the vet that she soiled herself, and then got it everywhere. I have finished cleaning the treatment area but have yet to wash my hands. As with all health fields, it’s common knowledge that anything on your hands will eventually end up in your mouth if you don’t wash them.)

Vet: “Would you like to look at her ear slide?”

Me: “Sure. Let me just wash my hands first.”

Vet: *jokingly* “You mean you don’t want to end up eating poop?”

(I start giggling.)

Me: “It’s not that I don’t want to ingest poop; I just don’t want to smell it on my hands!”
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Old 01-12-2022   #1328
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At Least It’s Still Just A Penny For Your Thoughts
Money, Overheard, Pennsylvania, Pharmacy, USA | Healthy | January 24, 2018
(I am in line waiting to pick up a prescription. The customer at the register is taking longer than usual. The worker tells him to step to the side while they try to sort out the problem. I overhear this between the man who is picking up the prescription and his friend.)

Friend: “It’s only three dollars.”

Man: “I ain’t got that kind of money. Do you know anybody with that kind of money? These is crazy times we live in.”
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Old 01-12-2022   #1329
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Going For The Condom Minimum
Bizarre, Grocery Store, Missouri, Pharmacy, USA | Healthy | January 22, 2018
(A woman comes up to our night cashier.)

Customer: “I need assistance at the pharmacy case.”

(The cashier pages me to the pharmacy case, as I’m the only one with the key after the pharmacist leaves. I arrive at the case.)

Me: “What items do you need?”

Customer: *hesitates for a moment* “I need condoms.”

Me: *opens the case* “You’re welcome to pick out any of the boxes that you’d like.”

(She picks up a few different boxes, shakes each one, then sets it back down. Then, she turns to me and asks

Customer: “Do you know which one of these feels the best for guys?”

Me: *more confused than surprised by the question* “I’m sorry. I’m afraid I can’t help you there.”

Customer: “Do you know which one fits best, then?”

Me: “I can’t help you with that. I’ve never used any of those.”

Customer: *exasperated sigh* “Oh, well. Better safe than sorry.”

(She put the condoms down, grabbed a pregnancy test, and walked away without another word.)
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Old 01-12-2022   #1330
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Going For The Condom Minimum
Bizarre, Grocery Store, Missouri, Pharmacy, USA | Healthy | January 22, 2018
(A woman comes up to our night cashier.)

Customer: “I need assistance at the pharmacy case.”

(The cashier pages me to the pharmacy case, as I’m the only one with the key after the pharmacist leaves. I arrive at the case.)

Me: “What items do you need?”

Customer: *hesitates for a moment* “I need condoms.”

Me: *opens the case* “You’re welcome to pick out any of the boxes that you’d like.”

(She picks up a few different boxes, shakes each one, then sets it back down. Then, she turns to me and asks

Customer: “Do you know which one of these feels the best for guys?”

Me: *more confused than surprised by the question* “I’m sorry. I’m afraid I can’t help you there.”

Customer: “Do you know which one fits best, then?”

Me: “I can’t help you with that. I’ve never used any of those.”

Customer: *exasperated sigh* “Oh, well. Better safe than sorry.”

(She put the condoms down, grabbed a pregnancy test, and walked away without another word.)
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Old 01-12-2022   #1331
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When Tetanus Is Better Than The Cure
Doctor/Physician, Ignoring & Inattentive, Medical Office, North Carolina, USA | Healthy | January 21, 2018
(My mother has a really bad needle phobia. She’s tried therapy for it, but still has panic attacks and worse reactions when she needs shots or blood draws. The people at our old clinic knew about it, but when we move, she has to see a new doctor, and needs her tetanus booster shot.)

Mom: “I have a pretty bad needle phobia.”

Doctor: “That’s fine; lots of people do.”

Mom: “No, I mean really bad. When I see the needle, I’m going to pass out. I’m going to jerk around; one doctor said it looked like I had a seizure. I need you to listen to me. Give me the shot while I’m unconscious. If you need me to sign something giving permission, I’ll do that, but you need to give me that the first time I pass out, because I really don’t want to have to do it twice.”

Doctor: “I’m sure it will be fine. Just don’t look at the needle.”

Mom: “No, that doesn’t work. Just knowing that I’m going to get a shot is enough to trigger a reaction. My doctor said she left a note in my file. Can you look? I’m serious; this is going to be a severe reaction.”

Doctor: “Okay, okay, I hear you.”

Mom: “All right.”

(He pulls out the needle, my mom passes out, and she comes to a few minutes later, with the doctor and a nurse standing over her, trying to bring her around. She tries to sit up.)

Doctor: “Don’t move; you had a seizure!”

Mom: “No, no, I told you: that’s just part of my reaction. I didn’t actually have a seizure.”

Doctor: “You passed out! You were having a seizure!”

Mom: “No, I wasn’t! I told you: this is what happens when I get shots. I’ll be fine in a minute.”

(She starts to move, then notices that there’s no bandage on her arm.)

Mom: “Did you give me the shot?”

Doctor: “No! You were having a seizure! I can’t give you a shot while you’re unconscious!”

Mom: “But I told you to!”

Doctor: “Look, I think we should run some tests to make sure you’re okay. If you are, I’ll give you the shot then.”

Mom: “You know, I think I’ll take my chances with the tetanus.”

(She went to another doctor, who not only listened to her, but gave her a mild sedative, and has since provided her with one whenever she needs blood-work or shots.)
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Old 01-12-2022   #1332
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Laughter Is The Best Drug
Doctor/Physician, Hospital, Nurses, Seattle, Silly, USA, Washington | Healthy | January 20, 2018
(Several years ago, I had an accident that required a skin graft on a knuckle. Present day: I hit my hand while working, causing the skin graft to split open, meaning I need stitches. I get to the hospital at about 4:30 pm, and it is PACKED. It is almost 2:00 in the morning before the doctor can even have a look at me.)

Doctor: “Yeah, you will need stitches, so I’m going to give you some novocaine to numb your finger up. We’ll give it 15 minutes to take effect, and get started.”

Me: “Don’t worry about that. It is a skin graft. You would need to poke me where I can feel it, to numb me up where I already can’t feel anything. Just sew it up, please.”

(The doctor agrees, gets a nurse to bring in the kit and hand him stuff, and starts stitching. I can’t feel a thing. After a few minutes, the nurse leans over and asks

Nurse: “So, is the novocaine still working?”

(In my defence, I am tired and incredibly bored, so I just look up with a horrified expression and say

Me: “I NEVER GOT ANY!”

(The nurse’s eyes almost pop out, and she is ready to flip out. The doctor just looks up at me and says

Doctor: “Oh, shut up, you baby.”

(Sorry, nurse, but the doc and I got a good laugh, at least.)
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Want to Keep Your Heart and Brain Young? Do This

Here’s a startling fact: About 3 in 4 American adults don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even more sobering: Many adults don’t get any activity at all, aside from what they need to make it through the day. And as we age, more and more of us stop moving. Almost 23 percent of adults between age 18 and 44 are sedentary. For those 65 and older, it’s around 32 percent.

While you likely know that long-term inactivity weakens your bones and muscles, you may not realize that it can damage your heart and brain, too. This, in turn, raises your odds of dementia and heart disease, among other conditions, and can lead to early death.

But research suggests that getting exercise can help keep these organs healthy and delay or prevent their decline. And if you regularly work up a sweat over a number of years? All the better.

“You really need to think about ways to keep moving,” says Kevin Bohnsack, MD, a family medicine physician at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “Everything that increases your overall activity can ward off that sedentary lifestyle,” he adds—along with the cardiac and cognitive problems that can come with it.

How exercise benefits the heart
As you progress through middle age, your heart gradually begins to weaken. Its walls get thicker and less flexible, and your arteries become stiffer. This raises your risk for high blood pressure (hypertension) and other heart problems, including heart attack and heart failure. And if you’re sedentary, that risk goes up even more.

When you exercise, your heart beats faster, increasing blood flow and supplying your body with necessary oxygen. The more you work out, the stronger your heart gets and the more elastic your blood vessels become. This helps you maintain a lower blood pressure and decreases your chances of developing many cardiovascular problems.

It’s aerobic exercise—also called cardio—that really does the trick. Research suggests that consistent, long-term moderate or vigorous cardio training may be most helpful, though any physical activity promotes good heart health. “It can be anything from running to biking to rowing,” says Dr. Bohnsack. “Anything that builds up that heart rate.”

Getting in shape benefits your heart in other ways, too, by helping neutralize risk factors linked to heart disease. Exercise is associated with:

A reduction in inflammation
An increase in HDL (“good” cholesterol) and decrease in LDL (“bad” cholesterol)
Maintaining a healthy weight and staving off obesity
And though more studies are needed, research increasingly shows that exercise can boost your heart health no matter your age. For example, for one small study published in March 2018 in the journal Circulation, 28 middle-aged men completed two years of high-intensity exercise training. Compared to a control group, scientists found the exercise reduced their cardiac stiffness and increased their bodies’ capacity for oxygen use—both of which may slash the risk for heart failure.

For another study published in the August 2018 issue of Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers gave heartrate and movement sensors to 1,600 British volunteers between the ages of 60 and 64. After five days, they found that more active people had fewer indicators of heart disease in their blood. Not too shabby, boomers.

How exercise benefits the brain
What’s good for your heart is generally good for your mind—and research shows breaking a sweat on a regular basis can boost brain health in several ways.

First, exercise is tied to improved cognition, which includes better memory, attention and executive function—things like controlling emotions and completing tasks. It can enhance the speed with which you process and react to information, too, along with your capacity to draw from your past knowledge and experiences.

Getting physical is also linked to slower age-related cognitive decline, where we gradually lose our thinking, focus and memory skills. “In other words,” says Bohnsack, “if you like where you are, it’s a good idea to continue to exercise because that may at least help you retain your current cognitive function.”

And though the jury is still out on whether it improves symptoms, exercise may help prevent or delay dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. For example, one 2017 review in The Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences found that activity was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s down the line. The link was strongest for people who purposely exercised in their spare time, rather than those who had physically active jobs. This suggests mental benefits may depend on your chosen activity, in addition to the time you put into it.

How does exercise do all this? Scientists aren’t completely sure. It’s thought that working out improves blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain, helping it function better. Some research indicates it prevents shrinkage of the hippocampus—the part of the brain crucial for learning and remembering things. Experts also believe it stimulates chemical activity in the brain that could contribute to better cognition.

Finally, exercise may help lower your chances of developing other conditions connected to dementia, including cardiovascular disease.

When can you start?
No matter our age, pretty much all of us can gain from exercise. “There is evidence to suggest that doing more vigorous exercise earlier in life is more beneficial,” says Bohnsack, “but it’s never too late to start because everyone benefits from doing some sort of movement or physical activity.”

In addition to its rewards for the heart and brain, working out:

Boosts your mood and energy
Helps prevent injuries
Lowers your risk of other diseases associated with aging, like arthritis
Helps you remain independent
Government exercise guidelines recommend that adults shoot for 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity weekly. Ideally, it should be spread across several days. Cardio activities like walking, biking, swimming, bowling, gardening and dancing are good options for older adults.

Your regimen should also incorporate some strength training, along with balance and flexibility moves. (Think yoga or tai chi.) They can help keep you mobile and reduce injuries—especially from falls, which are often catastrophic for older people’s health.

Ease into your routine
Of course, older adults should always speak with a healthcare professional (HCP) before beginning any new regimen, especially if you have a chronic condition, like heart disease. Your HCP can help you decide on a safe, effective routine attuned to your fitness level.

And remember: Even if it’s just a short walk, any exertion is better than none. “Taking steps during the day to do physical activities or movement can be just as beneficial as if you joined a gym,” says Bohnsack. To start, he suggests simple moves like doing squats at work or parking farther away from your office so you can log a few extra steps.

It may help to use an app like Sharecare (available for iOS and Android) to help you track your daily activity.

Whatever you do, Bohnsack says, you must decide if planting yourself on the sofa is worth your long-term brain and heart health: “As I emphasize to patients, ‘A rolling stone gathers no moss.’”
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Making Memories with Pills

Did I take my pills today? You may be able to answer the question with clarity if you get a little creative.

Example: Take your medicine a different way each day. One day, put a pill in your mouth while crossing your arms. On another day, place your hand on your head when you swallow it down. May seem silly, but each unique action can help distinguish one pill-popping session from another.

Good medicine
Another memory trick is to purchase a page-a-day calendar. Rip off the day's page after you've popped your pills, suggest Gilles O. Einstein and Mark A. McDaniel, authors of MemoryFitness: A Guide for Successful Aging.

Here are three more memory aids the authors suggest:

Create a chart, and add a checkmark when you've taken your meds.
Use a pillbox with compartments for each day of the week.
When you take your pills, focus on the task at hand without getting distracted (distraction = poor memory-making).
Read this article for more memory techniques.

Did you know?
Most doctors communicate only four of the six most important points about your medications. Here's what may be missing from the information you're told.
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Old 02-08-2022   #1335
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Improve Memory with a Power Nap


Getting some extra ZZZs can give your brain a much-needed boost.


You could improve memory skills with this brilliant little habit: power napping.

In a study, people who took a power nap after learning a new task performed 50 percent better than the non-nappers when they were later given a test on the task.

Power nap benefits
The process of making memories is complicated. And new memories are the most fragile. But in the study, researchers discovered that nappers who got quality deep sleep (slow-wave sleep) during their naps learned new material much better compared with the sleep-deprived participants. Scientists think something about deep sleep helps new memories encode into higher brain regions where memories become more permanent.

Something about sleep
Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night is a good health goal. It boosts your immune system, helps control stress levels and may even be essential in keeping your heart and other body parts healthy. And a power nap every now and then can be a good way to catch up on lost ZZZs—not to mention improve memory and keep your mind sharp.
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Old 02-08-2022   #1336
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Aging and Memory Issues

Concerned about short-term memory loss and its causes? Want to know how to improve your memory? Find out ways to manage age-related memory loss.

You're standing in front of the open refrigerator but forgot what you came for. You're ready to leave the house but can't find your purse again.

Is your forgetfulness just memory loss that comes naturally with age? Or should you worry about your memory loss?

The good news: There are ways to improve memory and give your brain a boost, and you’ll find out how.

Do brain supplements really work? What about reading books, writing poetry, eating right, getting a good night's sleep, or socializing more?

We’ve gathered the facts about memory loss and put it all in one place. Now, you can easily find the latest expert advice and research on how to improve your memory and reduce your risk of declining memory as you age.

It's always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider (HCP) about your memory loss and the possible causes. They can help rule out any worrisome conditions and tell you how to live your life to the fullest.


Ever walk into a grocery store and forget what you were there for? What if there was a way to train your brain to remember you came for milk, bread, eggs, and coffee? Read on to find out how mnemonic techniques and other simple memory improvement tips can make your brain stronger.

Disease and Memory
Musicians sing about the connection between the head and the heart every day. But are heart disease and dementia somehow connected? What role does diet and high cholesterol play in brain health? See why a healthy heart may contribute to a healthy brain.

Exercise and Memory
We know that exercise can lead to a trim and fit body, but what about a healthy mind? Can adopting a regular walking routine increase your brain size? Find out how lacing up your sneakers may keep you healthy in more ways than one.


Sleep and Memory
Could those restless nights be wreaking havoc on your brain? Will taking a catnap in the afternoon help or hurt your chances of improving your memory skills? Read on to find out how snoozing may affect memory.

Nutrition and Memory
You see rows of vitamins that claim to boost brain health, but are they really worth it? What role, if any, does the food you eat play in keeping your brain at its best? Get the facts about boosting your longevity and brain power through nutrition.
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Old 02-08-2022   #1337
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Want Bigger Brains? Walk

True, there's no home-gym equipment designed to build up your brain muscle. But a simple walk just might increase your brain size.

A study shows that regular cardiovascular exercise, like walking, is good for your brain because it can enlarge the hippocampus—a brain structure vital to memory function.

Fit body, better memory
As we age, our brains tend to shrink, and our memory can wither in the process. But a study shows that an aerobically fit person has a larger hippocampus and performs better on spatial memory tests than a less fit subject. In the study, being more fit did not slow the rate of hippocampal shrinkage once it began, but it meant that people generally had more to work with once shrinking started. And that means less total deterioration overall. 

Banish brain downsizers
Here are some other cognitive-health tips to consider:

Stamp out stress. Chronic stress can be a real brain drain, and troubled finances may be one major cause.
Minimize the mai tais. Some studies suggest that alcohol abuse may shrink the hippocampus.
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Flex Your Memory

Have you ever driven to the store, only to forget to buy one or more of the items you needed? You could make a list ahead of time, or you could use a handy mnemonic memory technique to remember everything in one stop.

What is mnemonic memory?
The mnemonic technique relies on the fact that your brain uses information from all your senses—touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste—to form your memories.

For example, have you ever noticed how a certain smell can remind you of someone or something from your past? Information from your nose is processed partly by the limbic system, a part of the brain involved in memory and emotion that stores memories.

The more senses engaged while experiencing an event, the more likely you'll be to remember it. For the following brain game, use your imagination to create associations based on your five senses to help you remember something practical, such as that list of grocery items.

Memory-making mnemonic
Suppose you're preparing for a picnic, and you want to remember a list of items to take: napkins, plastic cups, paper plates, chairs, soda and a potato salad.

First, choose a favorite and familiar place, such as a bedroom, backyard or neighborhood park, and create a mental map of that place. Imagine the surroundings in as much detail as you can, noticing colors, sounds, smells and feelings associated with the setting. Can you visualize 5 to 10 objects in this space? These objects are the foundation for your mnemonic—your memory device; once you fix them in your mind, you can use them to help you remember almost anything.

Let's say your favorite place is your backyard, and you easily visualize a rose bush, a tree, a cobblestone path, a doghouse, a garden hose and a patio table.

Create an association between each item on your picnic list and one of the objects in the backyard.

For example, you might imagine napkins covering your rose bush, with the thorns sticking through the paper. See plastic cup ornaments hanging from the tree and paper plates lining the cobblestone path. Visualize a stack of chairs sitting on top of the doghouse, soda streaming from the garden hose and a potato salad spread all over the patio table. The crazier and sillier your associations, the better the memory device will work.

When it's time to get your picnic items together, close your eyes and take a mental walk around your decorated backyard. You'll be sure to remember everything!
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Memory Improvement Tips Using Poetry

How do I remember thee? Let me count the ways...

Exercising your brain helps keep it young, and a great way to work your mental muscle is to read, write and memorize poetry. Studies show that committing your favorite verses to memory can not only preserve mental function but may also improve your memory.

Start with some poetry that interests and engages you. You might find yourself drawn to the verses of Robert Frost or Maya Angelou, or you may prefer the fledgling efforts of your children or grandchildren.

Next, use this 10-step plan for committing those verses to memory:

On your first read, read it slowly, absorbing every word. It's important for you to understand the poem. Meaning helps to make memories.
Next, quickly read the poem several times, feeling the rhythm and cadence of the language. This additional experience of the poem will provide more layers of meaning and memory.
Copy the poem down—many people find the act of writing helps them commit things to memory.
Now, read the poem out loud. Hearing how the poem sounds will help you remember it better.
Auditory learners may benefit from recording a reading of the poem and playing it back frequently.
Break the poem into different parts, by line or by section.
Memorize one line or section at a time. Stick with that portion until you feel confident reciting it from memory. Practice reciting two memorized sections together before moving on to a new section. You can memorize one section each day if you want to pace yourself.
Get some sleep. After you've memorized your poem, getting a good night's sleep may actually help enhance your memory of it.
Keep a copy of the poem with you at all times. Read it frequently throughout the day.
To test your memory of the poem, recite it to someone who has a copy or write it down from memory and compare your work to the original.
Eventually, give your poetry exercises a twist by fashioning your own odes. To get the ideas flowing, try opening a book, pointing to a word at random and using it in a verse. Or take a favorite poem and alter it to incorporate your own topic and meaning.

Keeping your mind sharp can take a bit of creative effort. But who knows? You may pen the next classic rhyme. Either way, your brain will be better for it.
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Do Brain-Health Supplements Really Keep Your Mind Sharp?

They're a billion-dollar industry—but here's some food for thought about taking vitamins for brain health.
Do Brain-Health Supplements Really Keep Your Mind Sharp?
By Regina Boyle Wheeler
By the year 2060, an estimated 14 million older adults in the United States will be living with dementia, which affects not only memory, but also decision-making and one’s overall ability to perform daily activities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alzheimer’s disease—the most common and often feared type of dementia—currently affects 5.8 million Americans of all ages.

Despite its rising prevalence, dementia isn’t a normal or inevitable part of aging. But this fate is a common concern among adults, particular those approaching older age, according to a poll published in 2019 by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

Researchers surveyed 1,028 people between 50 and 64 years of age about brain health and found that nearly half were worried about facing memory loss or dementia. They also found that most folks did not discuss these concerns with their healthcare provider (HCP)—but 73 percent of the participants did try unproven strategies to protect their mind, including doing mentally stimulating games, like crossword puzzles, or taking brain health supplements.

In fact, 48 percent admitted to taking some type of vitamin or supplement to boost their memory, and 32 percent used fish oil or omega-3 supplements, the research showed.

This isn’t just one poll suggesting that taking vitamins for brain health is widespread among adults. The 2019 AARP Brain Health and Dietary Supplements Survey also found that 26 percent of U.S. adults age 50 and older take at least one of these products. Not only are brain-health supplements widespread, they’re big business, too: The AARP projects that sales of these products will reach $5.8 billion by 2023.

But do over-the-counter brain health supplements really help sharpen fuzzy thinking or boost mental alertness? Could they really help stave off mental decline, or even Alzheimer’s?

The short answer: It’s unclear. There is little scientific evidence about the effectiveness of brain-health supplements. The only things we know with certainty are that they’re not cheap and they’re not risk-free.  

Another important truth: You should not take supplements of any kind, including those labeled as “all-natural,” without talking to your HCP about it first.

Supplements aren’t regulated
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any supplement to prevent dementia or slow its progression, cautions Kinjal Desai, MBBS, MD, MPH, the Medical Stroke Director at HCA Houston Healthcare.

The agency doesn’t regulate dietary supplements in the same way that it controls prescription and over-the-counter medications. That means health officials do not test supplements for safety or effectiveness, and they could contain harmful hidden ingredients. Brain supplements also can’t be advertised as treatments for diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, but many are marketed as being beneficial for mental focus and memory—claims that aren’t backed by iron-clad research.

Understanding the claims
What is a brain-health supplement anyway? Most of these products focus on a few key nutrients that are usually included as part of overall, heart-healthy eating plans—such as the Mediterranean and DASH diets—which have been associated with greater longevity. Among these nutrients:

Omega 3 fatty acids. Some studies suggest that eating fish—particularly fatty fish like salmon and sardines—and other seafood is associated with reduced risk for cognitive decline. But omega-3 fatty acid supplements, also known as fish oil, don’t appear to do the same thing.

A large 2015 study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health failed to show that taking the omega 3 fatty acid supplements DHA and EPA could help slow mental decline. Other smaller studies have hinted at the possibility that DHA supplements may be beneficial for those with mild cognitive impairments, but more research is needed before a recommendation could be made.

B vitamins. Healthy levels of certain B vitamins, such as B12 and B9 (folate or folic acid), are essential for brain health. B12 deficiency can cause reversible cognitive impairment. A deficiency in these vitamins has also been linked to mental decline and dementia later in life. A 2019 analysis of 31 trials involving people with and without cognitive impairment published in Drugs & Aging found no conclusive evidence, however, that B-vitamin supplementation was associated with a brain benefit.

Meanwhile, most people get adequate amounts of these vitamins through their diet alone. Folate is found in a wide range of brain-healthy foods, particularly dark leafy greens, fruits, nuts, beans, peas, meat, poultry, seafood, grains and dairy products. Vitamin B12 is found mainly in animal products, such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs and other dairy products, but it’s often added to breakfast cereals and other fortified foods. Keep in mind, B12 deficiency is fairly common among older people and those in this age group should ask their doctor if they would benefit from a supplement.

Vitamin E. This antioxidant helps keep your immune system working properly and protects against cellular damage. Some research suggests that getting a lot of vitamin E through your diet is linked to a lower risk for dementia, but there is little evidence that supplements offer the same protective benefit. And while there is no known risk from consuming vitamin E-rich foods, high-dose supplements can increase the risk for stroke and bleeding. It may be particularly risky for people taking blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin).

Curcumin. This is the ingredient that gives the spice turmeric its bright orange color. The nutrient has been touted as a “superfood” with a range of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It’s also been linked to improved mood and working memory.

A 2018 review of existing studies published in GeroScience concluded that while short-term curcumin use is generally considered safe, there is not enough evidence to suggest it could help prevent or manage dementia. It’s also important to note that turmeric or curcumin supplements may not be absorbed correctly unless eaten with fatty or oily foods. Combining curcumin with piperine (a major component of black pepper) could also boost its bioavailability, or its ability to be absorbed and used by the body.

Other supplements touted for brain health include ginkgo biloba and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), but there is scant evidence that these products offer any actual cognitive benefit.

The bottom line on brain supplements
It’s wise to keep your cash in your wallet, advises the AARP-founded Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), a group of leading neurologists and other brain experts. A 2019 GCBH report, which reviewed recent research on some well-known brain health supplements, concluded that there’s simply not enough evidence that they actually work.

If you are interested in taking a supplement, however, talk to your HCP, Dr. Desai advises. A doctor can give you the best advice on whether a product is right for you based on your health history and any medications you may be taking.

What you should do instead
Rather than spend money or unproven and possibly risky brain-health supplements, you could focus on what has been shown to improve cognitive function, including the following:

Know what foods are good for the brain. Certain diets, which emphasize fruits, vegetables, healthy unsaturated fats, nuts and whole grains, are associated with better brain function. These eating plans are rich in many of the nutrients used to make so-called brain supplements, but the body may not absorb nutrients from supplements in the same way that it does from food. When consumed as part of an overall healthy diet, nutrients may also work together and have synergistic effects, which isn’t the case when they’re consumed as individual supplements.

For brain health, Desai recommends the MIND diet—a combination of the low-salt DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet.

Limit alcohol. Anyone who has had a few drinks, or been around someone who’s been drinking, can attest to alcohol’s effects on the brain. In the short term, drinkers may have trouble walking, have slowed reaction times and memory lapses. While these effects may wear off, heavy alcohol consumption is also linked to short- and long-term cognitive impairment and an increased risk for dementia.

While the effects of moderate drinking are less clear, if you don’t drink, it’s best not to start. And if you do decide to imbibe, limit your intake to reduce your risk for a slew of health issues. For women, that means no more than one drink per day. Men should have no more than two daily drinks.

Don’t smoke or vape. Smoking contributes to brain aging, speeds up cognitive problems, and it may even shrink your brain, Desai says. Note that it’s important to avoid all forms of tobacco, including e-cigarettes.

Get moving. Exercise can benefit your brain and overall health by improving blood flow, protecting heart health and keeping stress hormone levels and inflammation in check. Physical activities such as swimming, walking, and biking may preserve your brain cells and encourage the growth of new ones. Long term exercise may also bolster the area of the brain that helps form memories.

Prioritize sleep. Poor sleep can lead to “brain fog” or reduced mental alertness. It could also lead to more accumulation of beta-amyloid, a protein in the brain associated with impaired brain function and Alzheimer’s disease. Getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night is essential for brain health, Desai says.

Protect your heart health. Good heart health is linked to better brain health. Keeping health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol under control will help protect your brain function over time as well. 

Stay social. There is some evidence that maintaining strong social connections could help keep your mind sharp over time. Research suggests that having a large social network may be associated with a lower risk for dementia and better brain health. While scientists aren’t sure how being social helps, getting out for lunch with friends, watching games or movies with your pals or being active in volunteer groups boost your mood and have few downsides, too.

Prevent accidents. A brain injury can increase your chances of developing cognitive problems. Wear a helmet when biking or playing any contact sport. Always use your seat belt in the car, and clear obstacles in your home or workspace that could increase your risk of falling.
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