It is possible, however, in adulthood, to do a work on oneself to evacuate
everything stored on a pathological or inadequate way, in our subconscious
memory, and which can disturb our conscious memory.
In that sense, we would have a much greater power than we imagine, to
avoid dementia :
1) The state of physical health
First of all, the quality of our health is the first asset that stimulates
the quality of our mental health. This is known : the quality of lifestyle
allows to live longer : diet, sleep and physical exercise are the three
pillars that should not be neglected. The absence of perpetual intense
and repeated stresses could be considered a fourth.
2) Make the memory work
It is the most obvious point, but not necessarily the most essential.
For the impairment of memory is the symptom, and it is mainly on the causes
that has to be worked.
It's important however not to confuse stress effects or emotional shocks
on the memory.
First of all, stress can interfere with attention (on a sustainable way
in the burn out as we already have seen).
When we think at too many things at once (such as it happens during stress
situations) and we are not really aware of it, it becomes difficult to
manage the different levels of thinking so as to give the priority to
one of them and to be able to calm the other flows of thoughts. It can
happen easily that we are invaded by a kind of mix of thoughts that, without
being managed, if they are too abundant, lead to confusion, distraction,
oversights, lack of understanding of the emotions that those thoughts
are generating, concentration difficulties, and eventually, to concern
in front of those disabilities, etc. This situation can create quickly
a snowball effect if we get aware of it because it is of course worrying.
And it can harm in the long run by dint of repetition. Yet, putting the
mental too much at work will, a priori, not stimulate the degeneration
of the brain.
In the same way, strong emotions and emotional shocks can force the mental
to work in a nagging way on the same thoughts, related to the memories
of a traumatic or problematic event. This can also create the same kind
of symptoms : confusion, oversights, distraction, concentration problem,
and of course, the associated anxieties that will accumulate with the
emotions already present. This is due to the omnipresence of the reminiscences
of the traumatic event which prevents the other mental functions from
working correctly, and more specifically, which will facilitate associations
between the traumatic event and other events or particularities of memorized
events, so that thoughts of the person affected by a trauma are almost
continuously marked by aspects of the traumatic event. The repetition
of the phenomenon can harm in the long term, but when it's possible to
heal it, it doesn't have any impact on the degeneration of the brain.
The healing occurs when one can dissociate the traumatic event from the
rest of the mental functioning, and that in addition one relieves it of
its emotional aspect (as for example with EMDR).
Memory can be compared to a muscle function. It needs work in order to
get stronger, and it has to be maintained all life long, and even more
and more with aging.
There are two main memory functions: recording and recalling. The presence
of the attention is necessary for the recording of data in the memory,
but beyond this recording, the recalling of the memory is only possible
if we are able to make associations between different recorded elements.
The recording of one brings back the other.
Training the memory consists then of two aspects. The attention, the
presence, the concentration, the awareness are the first pillar.
The association work is the second pillar. It can be trained also like
a muscle. If you are searching the name of a fruit, the name of a person,
the name of a profession, no matter the category; the more you get used
to recall names from categories, the easier you will find back other names
in those same categories, but also in any other registers.
When you realize that you tend to forget, or rather, not recall names,
then strengthen your memory muscle. Search, search, more, again at every
This work won't give many results if you are in a period of stress, of
mourning, of exhaustion, strong preoccupation, important anxiety.
Manage those problems first. But in a relatively serene situation, the
work of strengthening memory consists much less in recording new items
than in recalling older items. The more you are able to recall all kinds
of items from your memories, the easier it will be to recall those deeper
buried. For, doing this, you are reactivating the neurons that create
associations in the brain, and the more they are reactivated, the greater
your memory will be. Being able to recall 10 names of actors, could lead
you to become able to recall 100 of them.
So, whenever possible, try to find back names that are not recalled easily,
without limiting yourself at noticing that you have forgotten and at giving
up. Be demanding with your memory and it will answer you better and better.