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How to Deal With an Aging Brain? 684

Posted by timothy
from the swap-in-hans-delbrueck's dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm sure this is something all older Slashdotters are aware of: as I get older my once-sharp brain is, well, getting worse. In particular, I'm not able to remember things as well as I once did. As a geek my capacity in this area was always what defined me as a geek. Nowadays things seem to go in OK, but then leak out. A few weeks later I've mostly forgotten. So, I ask Slashdot: how do you cope with your mind getting older? What's your trick? Fish-oil? Brain Training on the DS? Exercise? Or just trying harder to remember things?"
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How to Deal With an Aging Brain?

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  • Or.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:30PM (#25861085)

    Simply take yourself out of situations where it matters ;p

    Seriously though.. where I work a lot of the "older guy's" tend to migrate into roles where they don't need to keep mountains of info bouncing around their head all the time. Roles where people come to them for guidance and advice.. but don't expect them to know the ins and outs of the systems. Let the young guys be the walking encyclopedias while you chill-ax into retirement.

    • Re:Or.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by weave (48069) * on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:52PM (#25861253) Journal
      Yeah, that's called management -- and it makes things worse if you really care. You get out of doing the fun stuff day to day and spend it all in meetings and dealing with personnel issues. It quickly speeds up the brain rot. :-(
      • by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Sunday November 23, 2008 @01:46PM (#25865615) Homepage Journal

        Something younger technical people forget is that managing a group of people requires more skills than knowing how to obfuscate a perl script.

        If technical people are great problem solvers they could apply the skills, allegedly learned doing "fun" stuff, to the problem of implementing productive teams of techies.

        This nonsense about management being a dead end for techies needs to be put to rest frankly, a good manager will enable technical people to do their job by isolating them from all the bullshit that comes from higher hierarchical levels while at the same time setting realistic objectives for all the parties involved. Having being a techie should be a great plus for somebody managing other techies, not an artificial hindrance.

    • by dzelenka (630044) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:57PM (#25861305) Journal

      I bet this suggestion gets ignored completely! This IS Slashdot after all!

      • by yog (19073) * on Sunday November 23, 2008 @11:19AM (#25864553) Homepage Journal
        There is evidence [mayoclinic.com] that physical exercise helps to improve memory. It's not known exactly why, but one can speculate that enhanced circulation will bring more oxygen and nutrients to the brain, keeping neurons well fed.

        Also, using the brain is strongly correlated with intellectual acuity:

        Do calculations in your head. E.g. add up grocery prices at the store.

        Use mnemonics. E.g., your friend introduces his two sons Sam and Bill. Bi l l is the o l der one.

        Read books. Unlike the single-screen attention span required for web reading, books require a longer span. Think about the book and discuss it with friends afterwards.

        Get off google. Looking things up that you "used to know" encourages mental laziness. Make yourself really think back and reconstruct (i.e., refresh old neural pathways) and you will be surprised at how much you can remember.

        Meditation, prayer, yoga, hypnosis. These are activities that turn off the mental chatter and help improve concentration.

        Challenge your mind. My mother-in-law, in her 70s, does a sudoku puzzle every day. There is evidence that such exercises contribute to improved acuity. Sudoku, crosswords, other puzzles all can be helpful.

        Review. First thing in the morning, look at your schedule, look over the specs, study the code, whatever info you might find helpful to recall later that day, instead of reading the Times or the sports news.

        Get off drugs. Reduce coffee and alcohol intake and detox your brain. Especially, alcohol and recreational drugs have a numbing effect on the mind and destroy memory capacity.

        Herbal supplements. This is controversial at this time. Some claim positive effects from gingko and other herbal extracts, and others claim no effects have been found. It may help you.

        Good luck! The brain does change over time, but it's possible to youthen your brain through conscious effort. Ultimately you can enjoy the advantages of the wisdom born of age and a strong intellect and clear memory.

    • I use gun. (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:58PM (#25861315)
      I keep a gun at work. My manager is aware of the weapon.

      At the last performance evaluation, he told me that the quality of my work was borderline due to the fact that I simply could not remember things. We worked out a plan that if I "qualify" for termination in the next layoff, then I will simply pull out the gun and blow my brains out.

      If I cannot survive in the competitive American market place, then I should not live. Most Americans support the concept that a nation is a free-market place. If you cannot compete, then you deserve to die. Hence, America does not have national health insurance: losers should die.

      Since I choose to live in America, I (and my manager) accept the rules of the free market.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by retchdog (1319261)

        Keep in mind, that psychosis tends to diminish your effective mental ability. If you actually want to keep your job and perform well, the first thing you'd do is try to drop this irrational suicide-complex. (After that, you might want to consider that you don't actually care that much about your performance, and that you are living an act of collectivist desperation.)

        Something you might want to consider is that you are engaging in the oldest and most inefficient form of collectivism: self-debasement to a fi

        • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Sunday November 23, 2008 @05:24AM (#25863339)

          Keep in mind, that psychosis tends to diminish your effective mental ability. If you actually want to keep your job and perform well, the first thing you'd do is try to drop this irrational suicide-complex. (After that, you might want to consider that you don't actually care that much about your performance, and that you are living an act of collectivist desperation.)

          Something you might want to consider is that you are engaging in the oldest and most inefficient form of collectivism: self-debasement to a figure of power, wrapped up in a mystical sheath of righteousness and "power".

          Get psychological help while you're still drawing breath and a salary.

          WHO ARE YOU CALLING A PSYCHO?!

      • by MillionthMonkey (240664) * on Saturday November 22, 2008 @10:19PM (#25861795)

        I keep a gun at work. My manager is aware of the weapon.

        Not my manager. Sweetness is hiding in my desk waiting for her big day.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by phoenix321 (734987) *

        If you cannot compete in job A, you surely have an ability to compete in job B, which in the current marketplace is job A's supervisor more often than not.

        If you cannot compete in jobs A-Z, all else fails and you have no idea how to reasonably work from home or self-employed, well, THEN I've bad news for you.

        But don't tell me you cannot flip burgers for minimum wage or buy-sell crap wholesale on ebay. I'd refuse to pay your health care just because you're too vain or too lazy to do that.

        But then again I liv

      • Re:I use gun. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by turgid (580780) on Sunday November 23, 2008 @08:34AM (#25863959) Journal

        That has given me an excellent idea.

        When I used to work for Sun, they brought in a new motivational and cost-reduction tool: the 10% rule. It came from GE.

        Every year at appraisal time, the staff would be ranked in order of righteousness. The bottom 10% would be fired. No ifs, not buts, just fired. Luckily I got downsized rather than 10%ed. (I was actually ranked fairly high.)

        We need something similar for society. Every year, your employer, doctor, family and friends should send an appraisal to the government. The bottom 10% of society could be put to sleep. Just watch productivity grow! Think of the savings on welfare, health costs etc. All slacking would be virtually eliminated over night! No more dead wood, just a continually improving bright, shiny nation of go-getters and successful people. Low taxes, homelessness, drug addition, alcoholism eliminated! Only the wealthy would reproduce. Everyone constantly vigilant striving to improve!

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by gbjbaanb (229885)

          We need something similar for society. Every year, your employer, doctor, family and friends should send an appraisal to the government. The bottom 10% of society could be put to sleep.

          Yeah, but after all the politicians have been put to sleep, who'll decide who comprises the remaining 8%?

    • Re:Or.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by couchslug (175151) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @09:58PM (#25861629)

      "a lot of the "older guy's" tend to migrate into roles where they don't need to keep mountains of info bouncing around their head all the time."

      Hello! Welcome to Wal-Mart.

  • re Pay attention (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jelizondo (183861) * <jerry,elizondo&gmail,com> on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:32PM (#25861097)

    Stop using M$ crap, it has been shown to cause brain rot

    Not knowing your age, i can't say if it is the onset of advanced age. I'm 47, I find that
    and I don't pay attention, at least not as much as I used to, and therefore things are
    harder to remember.

    I get distracted because I think that I know where the conversation, lecture or whatever is
    going and then I find out it took a different turn somewhere and I lost it.

    Once I pay attention, I find that the old grey matter is still serviceable.

  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:33PM (#25861113)

    I think I'll take over the spaceship and kill all the astronauts.

  • by cob666 (656740) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:34PM (#25861119) Homepage
    Isn't there a firmware upgrade that fixes this yet?
  • Testosterone (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sybert42 (1309493) * on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:34PM (#25861121) Journal

    I had an elective castration, and am on testosterone replacement after I found myself not remembering as well as I did before. Really helped in that area. Check your levels to see if they warrant some replacement.

  • by ettlz (639203) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:34PM (#25861127) Journal
    Why did I click "Read More" again? Back I go, retrace the steps...
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:35PM (#25861131) Journal

    Choose 'all of the above' and anything else that keeps your mind active. Brain health is a topic with a huge volume of data on the Internet. Recent additions to the pile of info is that cannabis (THC) may help retard onset of senility. There are many things you can do. Your wetware is chemically based, and so any particular concoction that works wonders for anyone else many not work at all for you. The goal would be to match physical traits of yourself to those that benefit most from various remedies. If you are overweight, look for brain health options that seem to work for diabetics etc.

    That's what I'm doing. Find best matches and experiment. So far so good. I think.

    • by Cyberax (705495)

      At the same time cannabis worsens memory (that's already been proved). So it's your choice :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by spaceman375 (780812)

        What's been proved is that people who smoke pot tend to drink alcohol too. Alcohol kills memory MUCH faster and more extensively than pot does.
        Just sayin.' Watch your sources and prejudices.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by feepness (543479)

          Alcohol kills memory MUCH faster and more extensively than pot does.

          I don't know about that. I often drink until I black out, and figure if I'm not using my long-term storage I must be saving it from wearing out.

          Right?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by WillKemp (1338605)

      Recent additions to the pile of info is that cannabis (THC) may help retard onset of senility.

      The only drawback (or perhaps the main advantage) of this method is that nobody will be able to tell if you're senile or just stoned.

  • Seriously, I've got nothing. I'm 27 and I think my brain is already going ;-)
  • by slifox (605302) * on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:39PM (#25861155)

    I recommend Piracetam: the first Nootropic ("smart drug").

    It is extremely safe, and is widely used in Europe to help reverse the effects of aging and to help against the deterioration of memory, among other things (note: I am not a doctor).

    There are numerous forums and communities on nootropics, both for anti-aging and productivity-boosting needs. However, make sure you take the advice from those places with the appropriately-sized grain of salt, and always double-check everything with a proper medical resource (i.e. peer-reviewed studies).

    I won't get into the details here, because I already did that in an older post (related to stimulants, but it is nonetheless relevant here too). Yes, I guess this qualifies as karma whoring ;)

    My previous post on Piracetam: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=562684&cid=23523554 [slashdot.org]

    Wikipedia on Piracetam: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piracetam [wikipedia.org]

    Erowid on Nootropics: http://www.erowid.org/smarts/ [erowid.org]

    • by EmotionToilet (1083453) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @09:31PM (#25861495)
      Actually, there is an entire class of racetams that can be used and each of them act a little different. Piracetam is considered the weakest of them all, and Pramiracetam is considered the strongest. I use Aniracetam and find that it helps quite a bit. When you stack them (Piracetam + Aniracetam) they work synergistically and you get an even stronger effect. Because they tend to use up your brains acetylcholine faster, people usually have to take a choline supplement with them a few times a week. The best form that I've found is alpha-GPC. It is the most bioavailable of choline supplements. The best part about these is that there are no side effects, even at high doses. Wiki - Racetam Class [wikipedia.org]
      • by gardyloo (512791) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @09:53PM (#25861613)

        When you stack them (Piracetam + Aniracetam) they work synergistically and you get an even stronger effect.

        The use of "synergistically" in a serious manner automatically disqualifies everything else one says.

        • In the original post, the use of "synergistically" is perfectly cromulent. The word has been a part of the pharmaceutical jargon for more than 50 years and is being used correctly in context.

          Two drugs exhibit synergism when the effects of giving them together are greater than one would expect from the effects of giving each one separately. Aspirin and codeine are synergistic: when given together in moderate doses, the combined analgesic effect is greater than either given alone. This combination is often

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by slifox (605302) *

        My favorite is Oxiracetam. It behaves very much like a stimulant, but rather than increasing your heartrate, it seems like it instead increases your "mental motivation," if that makes any sense. When I take it, it almost is uncomfortable to be bored or not have anything to do.

        For instance, the first time I took it, I noticed I was able to play complex drum exercises _MUCH_ faster than I normally can. However, while I was doing this, my heartrate was almost at resting rate.

        Piracetam has a very subtle effect,

    • by MillionthMonkey (240664) * on Saturday November 22, 2008 @09:51PM (#25861601)

      I'm not sure but I think Piracetam has been asociated with anxiety and irritability, although it's generally considered to have minor side effects.

      I took another one of the racetams (Levetiracetam, trade name Keppra) for epileptic seizures. Besides being an anti-epileptic drug, Levetiracetam is considered a nootropic, and I do remember feeling that it made me a little sharper. It's structurally similar to piracetam- it has an extra ethyl group. But I can't imagine anyone wanting to take this stuff to get more intelligence. The psychological side effects are just too nasty.

      Not everyone reacts to it the way I did. Some people experience no side effects at all, and really like it. But for me this was an amazing drug. I would take it, note the time, and brace for it. After 20 minutes, thoughts would start to fill my head- first reflective thoughts, then bittersweet thoughts, becoming morose ones, and an hour later it was a full blown depression. It felt like I was being crushed by a little pill, if that makes any sense.

      I actually was able to focus well on this drug, but I was really pissed the whole time. I was angry that I had to do whatever I was doing, even if I could do it well. I did more chores and resented every minute of it. At work I would snap at people and have to apologize an hour later. That got old really fast. I gave things to my wife and asked her to hide them from me, because I would get overwhelmed by sudden impulses to smash whatever I was holding against the floor. It changed the importance I attributed to things- so that I would get incredibly annoyed by the stupidest little stuff. If something was even a little annoying without Keppra, it became intolerable under its influence. This is a well-known symptom; it even has a name: "Kepp-rage". I caused a lot of trouble.

      After months of this my emotions sort of dulled out and faded away, except for occasional hostile impulses that I was able to recognize as the drug. It was a little helpful with the seizures. But then I went to my next doctor appointment and as soon as he saw me he took me off of it. "I can see you have a flattened affect." No kidding, it was flatter than Kansas.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)

      Suggesting that someone gets doped up and sped up with stimulants is a pretty poor idea, especially when dealing with the over 40 crowd. Has there been any studies on the safety of this stuff for older people? Does it affect the heart in any way? Or the lungs? Who knows. This stuff is sold as "nutritional supplements." Nootropics are a young man's game, if they really do anything other than a boatload of side-effects.

      Chemistry isnt the best way to attack all problems. It amazing what you can to improve you

    • Do what I do. Up your caffeine dose eeeevvverry yyyeeaaarrr...........
  • 10: Eat, Drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!

    20: Heh, an aging brain implies you are still alive.

    30: goto 10
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pablomme (1270790)

      10: do
      20: Eat, Drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!
      30: Heh, an aging brain implies you are still alive.
      40: enddo

      Sheesh.. some people!

  • Supplements (Score:5, Informative)

    by Midnight Ryder (116189) <midryder.midnightryder@com> on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:42PM (#25861183) Homepage

    One of my solutions to the problem is a good set of vitamins. I tend to shy away from stuff like Centrum, and use multi-vitamin packs with a little more "kick" to them (and are a heck of a lot more soluable in the digestive system), and B12 sublingual drops.

    If I have to ask myself the question "how long was it since I took my vitamins?" then the answer is probably about three days - that's how long it take for them to wear off on me.

    As with a lot of processes in our bodies, good nutritian helps the brain considerably. Eat right, exersize, and take a good multi vitamin, and you'll probably see a lot of the memory issues go away. It works for me anyway - as with any random commenter on /., YMMV :-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by maxume (22995)

      You're spalling is a cleer endorshment of your opinonion.

  • by shellster_dude (1261444) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:42PM (#25861185)
    It is guaranteed to help you gain a photographic memory. You'll never forget anything again! The secret to this amazing breakthrough is...Dammit, I can't remember.
  • by Mascot (120795) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:44PM (#25861199)

    I never found having nearly photographic memory to be particularly necessary. I never saw the point of memorizing a lot of junk in school; I know how to read, I own the book, nobody could ever give me a single sane reason why it was worth spending days memorizing things for an exam. We all know it's gone again a few days later, but the book is still there.

    I find the same applies to life in general. The important part is to be able to find solutions, and understand them when you do, not being able to recite every possible thing from memory.

    If you remember "everything" without any effort, great! I don't. But, luckily, there doesn't seem to be much of a need.

  • by xzvf (924443) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:44PM (#25861201)
    Can't say more than that. I've seen many young hotshots that can run rings around me as day to day sysadmins. What I've became good at, as a sysadmin, is fixing something once and then automating the fix. I forget pretty quickly how I fixed the problem before, but I can always read the comments in the script I wrote to make sure it doesn't happen again.
  • by Punto (100573) <puntob.gmail@com> on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:50PM (#25861235) Homepage
    The notion that memory == intelligence is just wrong. Just get over it, and let a computer do all the memory for you. Use your brain for what it's uniquely qualified to do.
  • Brain Workshop (Score:5, Informative)

    by De Lemming (227104) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:51PM (#25861237) Homepage

    This recent Slashdot thread [slashdot.org] (and the accomplishing article [timesonline.co.uk]) discussed the effectiveness of brain training games.

    In that thread, I pointed to Brain Workshop [sourceforge.net], an open source version of the game used in this [pnas.org] study by Susanne Jaeggi, a psychologist at the University of Michigan. The study deals with improving "fluid intelligence" - the part of your mind that deals directly with the raw newness of experience or, as defined by Jaeggi, "the ability to reason and to solve new problems independently of previously acquired knowledge."

    Others pointed out there's also a Javascipt version [dual-n-back.com] that's much more light-weight.

  • by aztektum (170569) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:52PM (#25861249)

    I use to be very anal about remembering every detail. As I've gotten older I'm less concerned with this. I use technology (Outlook calendar/tasks, smartphone, Google Calendar for personal) to remember less and remind me when needed. I only concern myself with concepts and only sweat the details when it comes to actually doing the job.

    I feel far less stressed out than I did when I'd try to remember every little ol' thing simply because I thought I needed to be a pedantic nerd. As a bonus I'm realizing there is more to living contently and I feel I have more time to spend on other things.

    On top of it all I also make sure to leave the damn things at home when I'm going to do something and don't want distractions. Work can pay me 24/7 if they want me to be available 24/7. Otherwise when I'm not at the office I don't really care.

    I do still take the time to know the important things: Birthdays, anniversaries, etc..

  • I'm 47 (Score:5, Funny)

    by acvh (120205) <geek.mscigars@com> on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:54PM (#25861279) Homepage

    and I've started making efforts to use external memory as much as possible: calendars, phonebooks, todo lists. All the things I didn't need 10 years ago.

    i've been told that a good diet and exercise can help, but it's not THAT bad yet.

    i forget people's names right after they introduce themselves. i lose my car keys every morning.

    my daughter (8) is taking advantage of this; "daddy, remember you told me you'd take me to a movie." shit, maybe I did.

  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:54PM (#25861281)
    At least that what I read somewhere (can't remember where though ;-)

    In terms of dealing with a failing memory, my solution is to write a lot of stuff down. I carry a pocket PC with all my notes in it -- very helpful.
  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:56PM (#25861297)

    I have to remember all kinds of shit now so the wife doesn't find out. I figure my memorization capacity has quadrupled since...er....what were we talking about again?

  • by cervo (626632) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @08:57PM (#25861303) Journal
    Seriously there are a ton of books out there on memory training and it works. Back in college I read quite a few of them and tried out some of the mnemonic techniques and they worked wonders, I can still recall some of the nonsense lists almost 10 years later. Ultimately to get really good requires a lot of time an effort which I was not willing to put into it.

    Some Books
    • Your Memory. How it works and how to improve it. -- Kenneth L Higbee -- One of the best books available on how the memory works as well as the mnemonic techniques
    • The Memory Book -- Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas -- pretty good book with a bunch of different techniques
    • Master Your Memory with Dr. Amazing: How not to Forget -- M Teitelbaum -- great book with many techniques not discussed in typical intro books on memory techniques

    But as far as forgetting stuff, I noticed that I was forgetting left and right when I turned 23. The difference is that instead of just focusing on college or something else, I had a lot of shit going on in my life and was constantly distracted and that hurt my memory. Now it is even worse. I think as you get older and you have more of a life, you just are more distracted and a lot of stuff you just won't pay as much attention to to remember as much. I'll bet if you throw in kids forget it....

  • by Caboosian (1096069) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @09:12PM (#25861401)

    I'm fairly young, but this seems like an almost obvious answer to me (yay naivety!). For almost any situation, whether it be a conversation with a coworker, an article about the latest video card, or a night class, writing it down should help a lot. Not only do you have your notes as something to refer to should you forget, you also gain the added benefit of actually writing down what you learned.

    Remember high school? If I didn't take notes on a lesson, I was guaranteed to do worse on a test. The same applies even as you get older - writing stuff down, even if the notes are minimal, should help with your memory problem significantly.

    Obviously, YMMV, but even if it feels too nerdy for a self-described geek, I would highly recommend carrying a small notebook around just to take notes in. Give it a shot, you might be surprised at how well you begin to remember things.

  • by Lazy Jones (8403) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @09:25PM (#25861473) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, not having to remember things while you are sitting in front of your PC because you can always google for it is very bad for your memory ...
  • by pwizard2 (920421) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @09:42PM (#25861547)
    In my case, I simply use technology.

    I'm 25, and I have a neurological condition called Dyspraxia which causes short-term memory problems, among other things. (My long term memory works fine, and you wouldn't notice anything unusual just by looking at me) On any given day, I can usually remember only one or two pieces of information at a time in my short term memory, and I used to constantly forget about assignments, appointments, things I was told to do five minutes ago, etc. Over the years, I've had to adapt to this problem by devising workarounds.

    I used to write things down in a planner book and keep it with me, but I kept losing it or forgetting to bring it with me. To solve this problem once and for all, I began using a tool called Taskfreak [taskfreak.com] after a former co-worker told me about it. I have Taskfreak running on my server, and since it's a web app, I can check it from pretty much any location and at any time, unlike other software planners I tried in the past. Plus, its impossible to "lose" Taskfreak since it's never really in my possession to begin with. This tool has practically replaced my short-term memory, since the only thing I have to remember is to check it often. (The browser start pages on all my computers point to my taskfreak installation, so I see it every time I start Firefox or any other browser)
  • by rasper99 (247555) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @09:42PM (#25861549)

    I started on a very, very cool tech R&D project in April at the age of 50. It's one of those things that is so involved that when anyone starts working there their brain swells up for the first month as it is filled up.

    I have said many times why couldn't I be like 30 or 40 when my brain worked better and come across something like this?

    I make up for the slowly decreasing short term storage by making a lot of notes. Make short term notes for what you are doing now. Then after the rush is over take a few minutes to flesh them out a little in case you have to do it again in a month and have forgotten what you did. It's not unmanly to make notes if it helps you kick the young whippersnapper's butts.

    Don't multi-task as many things at once. This helps even the young. I used to work on six systems at a time. Now I do like two and get them right. If you're going to do things over and over take the time to script and automate if there is a ROI. Share the scripts, etc. with others to help save everyone time.

    I draw on my 29 years of professional technical experience. I use the professional maturity gained over the years to spend an appropriate amount of time carefully crafting an important email or document. It ends up saving time in the long run.

    Over the years you learn what works in business and what doesn't. Tech knowledge is important but learning how people and business works is important too.

    I use my 29 years of IT experience in so many different things to my advantage. Last week I reduced a problem down to system tuning. I used those old skills and made a lot of people happy. In the old days system tuning was a way of life. Younger people who haven't dealt with low horsepower and don't do know things like that.

    Use your experience with people and maturity gained over the years. I've got a deck of punch cards of assembly code on my desk to remind me how good I've been over the years. Today people can hardly imagine using assembly much less reading a dump. Might just have to do some of assembly in the future to get stuff to run faster.

  • Wrong problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mike_sucks (55259) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @09:46PM (#25861565) Homepage

    Remembering stuff isn't what makes you a geek - remembering stuff is what your hard drive and the Internet is for. Being a geek is all about applying your one-eyed devotion to [hardware|software|cameras|games|knitting|etc] to the fullest extent and doing nifty things with it.

    It's pretty well known that young people are better at raw ability where older people are better at anything that requires experience. So don't worry about forgetting stuff too much, concentrate on kicking arse with your experience.

    If you are forgetting stuff, write it down. But keep on being a geek and stay fit, because mental and physical activity are two primary factors in retaining cognitive ability in old age.

    /Mike

    PS: wear sunscreen

  • Why Bother? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Plekto (1018050) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @09:55PM (#25861621)

    I personally can't wait for Alzheimer's given all of the stuff (plus an ex) that I'd love to forget about.

  • read like a fiend (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eil (82413) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @10:22PM (#25861811) Homepage Journal

    Normally I stay out of threads like this, but I take exception to the high number of responses so far that have advocated taking supplements and vitamins. But that's what our society has come to these days, I guess. Got a problem? Take a pill!

    I'm not that old but like most of us, I'm aging nonetheless. Here is what I'm doing to try to keep my brain in decent shape.

    First, keep your body in shape. Recognize that the brain depends on the body. If you aren't eating right and aren't exercising, then your metal facilities are lower than they should be. Every single study that has been evaluated the link between exercise and brain function has found that there is a direct causal relationship. People who exercise regularly are smarter than those that don't, when all other factors are equal.

    Second, keep the mind in shape. It needs exercise too. I usually get plenty of intellectual stimulation from daily geeky activities but when I don't, I read like a fiend. Read fiction, read non-fiction, read technical books (even ones you've already read). Keep learning. You'll never learn everything there is to know, but it's incredibly rewarding to learn as much as you can. In the past few years, I've taken interest in music, electronics, and a foreign language (German). All things that I wouldn't have dreamed I'd dabble in 10 years ago.

    If it's memory in particular that you're having a problem with, see about getting more sleep. One popular theory for the necessity of sleep is that it gives the brain a chance to shut down the I/O bus while it evaluates, organizes, and stores information received during the day. Sounds plausible to me because I know I don't retain much when operating on minimal sleep.

  • by Cytlid (95255) on Saturday November 22, 2008 @10:41PM (#25861949)

    The internet helps you remember things. I call it a pornographic memory.

  • What I do (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fuego451 (958976) on Sunday November 23, 2008 @12:39AM (#25862541) Journal

    I exercise daily, teach myself new things that I've always wanted to learn, do a lot of reading and challenge my mind in many other ways. I enjoy a few beers or glasses of wine often and do a little weed now and then. I don't take any vitamins and I don't do diets. I'm 63.

    I realize that I have forgotten a lot of information I needed to know for school, work etc., but I recognize that I have forgotten that information because I no longer need it and I replaced it with new stuff I like.

    There is a history of Alzheimer's in my family so I also keep myself informed on the latest research regarding prevention.

  • by bgspence (155914) on Sunday November 23, 2008 @01:36AM (#25862745)

    I can't remember the last time I forgot something.

  • Me Too (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CharlieG (34950) on Sunday November 23, 2008 @04:06AM (#25863145) Homepage

    About 3-4 years ago, I found that lots of "trival" details about certain things started leaking. Here is what I've found works

    1) Remember the old hints about "a quiet spot to study" - yes it makes a difference. I find with my 2 kids running around, the TV blareing, the radio on, etc, I can't remember, my brain goes elsewhere (and it doesn't help that I have a chronic wound, and I'm on pain killers almost 24x7). Find a quiet place/time for the deep things

    2)Personally, the thing _I_ tend to forget are appointments, and in particular, the details. "OK, I know my wife has an MD appointment one day this week, which day is it, and where and what time should I be picking up the kids that day?" A calendar - be it electronic, or written - the way my WIFE likes it (conflict here - causes extra work) is a lifesaver - write it down (and if you have an SO, have them write their stuff down). You can then "page out" that information till you need it

    3)A Journal - Many years ago, a co-worker (Thanks Harry) taught me something important - keep a journal (I don't do as well as I should) - a bound numbered book you keep on your desk. Write EVERYTHING down, every day. Go to a meeting, write it in the book, get a phone call - it goes in the book. Have lunch with someone, in the book. Make an apointment to have lunch with someone? In the book.

    This isn't only for memory, but if you faithfully keep the book, leave no blank pages etc, what you end up with a document that is legally acceptable as evidence. Just in case. It's like the scientists bound lab notebook. You'll find that EEs use them, etc -

    4)Take a little time each day to have as "quiet" time. For me at least, the ability to sit down with a cup of coffee/tea/glass of water (or whatever) and just "clear my mind" makes a big difference - watch the birds, the clouds, or even (if you can get outdoors) look at a picture, gets my mind into a state where the rest of the day is a lot better memory and stress wise

    5)A consistant routine. Remember I said about "offloading details" - I try and do as many things as I can on "autopilot", so I don't get overwhelmed in details - sort of like programming, a lot of the techniques in programming are all about "information hiding" - you can really do a lot of this in your life.

Get hold of portable property. -- Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations"

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