If you recall telling your child to listen up and pay attention for years, only to find yourself having more and more “senior moments” as you age that affect your memory and attention span, you’re not alone.
Adults can just as readily lose that ability as they get on in years. It’s a skill that has to be continually improved upon, just like you would work your muscles at the gym. Without practice, the habit can deteriorate. But first, we must assess which skill areas you may be weaker in and which are your strengths, and also find out if you in fact have a problem which is deteriorating faster than would be expected for someone your own age. This is the purpose of a neuropsychological evaluation.
Neuropsychological evaluations involve assessing behavior and thinking skills relating to brain function. Here at Comprehensive MedPsych Systems, we administer neuropsychological evaluations without the need for invasive tests, pills, shots, x-rays or physical exams. Instead, we utilize mostly verbal and written tasks.
More complex than a standard psychological evaluation, a neuropsychological evaluation assesses cognitive areas for potential dysfunction, including:
- Visual-spatial functioning
- Language skills
- Problem solving
- Visual/motor speed and coordination
Improving the Ability to Concentrate, Pay Attention and Recall Memories
Once the neuropsychological evaluation provides us with a roadmap of your thinking strengths and weakness, we can help you move on to figuring out how to help maintain your best thinking/cognitive functions. For instance, most of us experience minor roadblocks in our concentration and memory ability. Fortunately, there are many exercises you can do to improve your ability to concentrate, most based in the art of frequent self-reminders. The only way to re-learn how to focus is to make yourself do it over and over again until it just becomes a habit. Check out these tips:
- Be more aware: Consciously focus not only on the task at hand but also why and how you are doing it. Be aware of how it makes you feel, as emotions greatly impact the ability to focus. And if those feelings are interfering with your memory and concentration, you have to change how you feel.
- Set frequent goals and monitor progress: You may have to continually adjust those goals, but the key is to keep an eye on them and make changes that suit the direction of your life.
- Practice mindfulness: This is the opposite of multi-tasking. Mindfulness, on the other hand, helps you achieve undistracted focus, which will in turn help your working memory capacity and push out distractions.
- Rest during the day when you can: Studies show that a mid-day nap dramatically boosts and restores brainpower. The power of sleep should never be underestimated, as it not only rights the wrongs of prolonged wakefulness but it can move you beyond where you were before you fell asleep, at least on a neurocognitive level.
- Exercise often: Physical activity encourages the brain to work at optimal capacity through the stimulation of nerve cells to multiply. This in turn strengthens their connections and protects them from damage. When you exercise, nerve cells release proteins called neurotrophic factors — the specific protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) can trigger many other chemicals that enhance neural health, posing a direct benefit to cognitive functions, including learning.
- Stave off boredom: Target your attention to creating more engaging trains of thought, perhaps ones based in competition to make your tasks more like a game. Changing the pace of your attention will enliven dull work and spark creative thoughts. Play some brain games daily online or on paper, at least 20 minutes a day, but spend no more than five to seven minutes on each task.
Contact Comprehensive MedPsych Systems
For more targeted assessment and help on memory and attention problems, contact us today. Many of our neuropsychologists are board-certified in neuropsychology and psychology.