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Ohhh, the agony of Multi Tasking!

I do a lot of different things, I read, write, sketch, paint with watercolours, take photographs, cook, and I always want to do more.  It is something that I have carried over from my working days, some might say that this is control issue.  It is not.  I’m afraid that I just like to do things, my way. (Okay, might be a control issue, I don’t know).

I am afraid that I am losing my memory because I do get confused at times, I do forget things, I do make mistakes.  In the back of my mind, I worry about all those brain diseases, Alzheimer’s, dementia and any other number of things that can go wrong.  However, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF) have come up with a viable alibi for my fading multi tasking ability. 

“The brains of aging adults are far less adept at switching between the two neural networks, one for memory and another for attention.”

In simpler terms, multitasking for older adults can be as troubling as sleep depravation.

So, my memory and my attention networks don’t communicate as well as they once did, it’s like not getting enough sleep.

“The research also shows that working memory is very fragile, he says. “Over the course of seconds, one interruption erases memory quality.”

This means that my memory is working fine until I have an interruption, something else that I must pay attention to.  Apparently, us older adults don’t like interruptions.  Can we solve this?  What we need to do is to practice being mindful, staying in the moment.  When distractions occur, don’t try to keep all tasks in the memory forefront.  It is better to deal with one task at a time (some things will have to wait). 

When we were working, we were paid to stay focused on more than one task at a time, it was for lack of a better explanation, a necessity of survival.  Now that we are retired, we supposedly no longer prioritize this survival skill, and our mind knows this.  So how do we deal with this? 

  • Practice being mindful.  Stay in the moment, pay attention to the here and now.  Don’t allow interruptions when you are doing things like writing down a phone number, creating a new password or studying some topic.
  • When you are doing something that is important to you, do everything you can to minimize distractions.  One task at a time, close the door, tell people not to disturb you.  God help you if you have a cat, you will need to work on team building skills.  The people in your life need to respect that you need to deal with things one at a time.
  • Keep your brain active, learn a new language, learn to sketch and paint with watercolours (my new hobby), create an exercise schedule, go for a photo walk, use your brain, push it a bit in new and different directions!  Go ahead, write that novel!

Love and light to all!

A day at the market is a day of smiles.
Smiling at the market
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