Managing Your Memory

Two VA doctors have written a new book, Seven Steps to Managing Your Memory: What’s Normal, What’s Not, and What to Do About It, as a resource for individuals who are concerned about their memory or would simply like to know what they can do to improve their memory and keep it strong. Dr. Andrew Budson is Associate Chief of Staff for Education and Chief of Cognitive & Behavioral Neurology at the VA Boston Healthcare System, and Dr. Maureen O’Connor is Chief of Neuropsychology at the Bedford VA Hospital; they also lead the education efforts of the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center. They began writing the book when they realized that most people don’t know which memory problems are part of normal aging and which are likely due to a brain disease, like Alzheimer’s.

“Most people think that if their memory is as good as their neighbor’s then it must be OK. The issue is that memory difficulties are so common, it may be that both you and your neighbor are having serious memory problems and don’t realize it,” Budson explains. “In the last ten years there has been an explosion in our knowledge of what causes memory loss and how best to diagnose and treat it. We also know much more about how to keep one’s memory strong.”
In the book, they explain what changes are expected in healthy aging (Step 1) and how to determine if your memory is normal (Step 2). They discuss when to see your doctor, what a memory evaluation should consist of, and the different disorders that can cause memory loss (Step 3). Medications to treat memory loss are then explained in detail (Step 4), followed by the diets and physical activities that can help (Step 5). Lastly, they discuss strategies and aids to keep your memory strong (Step 6) and how to plan your future (Step 7). The book is available at your local library or for purchase on Amazon.

The VA has a full array of state-of-the art diagnostic and treatment facilities available for senior Veterans and the caregivers, including Memory Disorders clinics, Neuropsychology services, and comprehensive Geriatrics evaluations, as well as Day Programs and Long-Term Care.

The Contract Adult Day Health Care program is made up of 20 community-based facilities that provide health maintenance services to during daytime hours for elderly and disabled Veterans. The program helps keep these Veterans in their community and provides caregivers with respite from the daily stresses of caring for them. Participating programs are located in many communities in Massachusetts.

For more than 40 years, the Contract Nursing Home (CNH) Program has maintained some level of Veteran choice in choosing a nursing home close to the Veteran’s home and family and provides some local oversight. The Contract Nursing Home Program is available to eligible Veterans for their long-term care needs at 20 selected/contracted community nursing homes.
For more information contact your local Veterans Outreach Coordinator, David Hencke, US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, VA Boston Healthcare System. at 857-364-5934 or david.hencke@va.gov.