Memory Workshop teaches strategies, helps maintain memory

Published: Feb. 26, 2020 at 5:32 PM CST
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Memory loss is expected to affect 40,000 Nebraskans by 2025, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

A workshop, created by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Tabitha, are giving people strategies to help maintain memory loss as they age.

In the class, teachers and students work to create routines, organize, and talk about the importance of exercise and nutrition. Routines and organization are critical for people with memory loss problems.

"The first time you've looked for your keys for 30 minutes, you're getting really panicked," said Lorenzen. "I've been concerned about memory issues, losing my keys, I can't find my phone, all that. I'd been concerned about those things."

Gail Lorenzen is a lifelong learner. She taught elementary school and worked in administration in Lincoln. When she realized she was forgetting small things, she felt scared.

A professor's friend told her about UNL and Tabitha's Memory Workshop. In Week 5, the class is discussing physical activity and the benefit it has on the brain and body. It's just one of many topics covered, including the development of strategies to retain and protect existing memory.

"Memory is easier if you know you have a routine for something if that's the first thing you check," said Judy Harvey, an Assistant Professor of Practice at UNL. "Hopefully that spiral of 'Oh, this is the beginning of dementia" doesn't occur."

The Workshop started several years ago. It offers three, eight-week-long programs every year for people with a memory loss diagnosis, and even those without it. Harvey said people want to know if they're aging typically, and ease the anxiety that maybe they're having memory loss problems.

"We had a lot of people ask because they've had some forgetting episodes and they wonder if that's typical," said Harvey.

The class is meant to restore confidence and focus on what can be rather than what used to be.

"I used to love to dance, but I'm still pleased with what I can do," said Lorenzen. "We can spend a lot of time thinking about what we used to do or could do, and all that sitting and thinking is not going to bring it back."