It's official. Men forget more than women. A recent study of 48 000 people conducted in Norway has confirmed that 9 out of 10 men have problems with remembering names and dates.
Professor Jostein Holmen, who conducted the study, commented, "It was surprising to see that men forget more than women. This has not been documented before. It was also surprising to see that men are just as forgetful whether they are 30 or 60 years old. The results were unambiguous."
The researchers are, however, puzzled by the findings, stating that, "We have speculated a lot about why men report more frequent problems with remembering than women do, but have not been able to find an explanation. This is still an unsolved mystery."
Mysterious indeed, but hardly surprising. Many of us live with, work with or know men who are absent-minded, forget wedding anniversaries and birthdays or cannot recollect the names of family, friends and neighbours. It has even been suggested by Foxtel that the remarkable minds of men are in danger thanks to a severe plague of "manesia" brought on by the "dribble of female-focused TV programs".
No matter what the cause, "manesia" is not new and it is here to stay. Research has now proven what we already knew - that men are programmed to forget. So, what can we do to help them improve their memories and, consequently, the lives of those around them? Here are 10 top tips to deal with this pervasive problem.
1. Use visual images. Why? Because associating visual images with words helps to remember things better. As an example, remembering to take the rubbish out is a responsibility many men across the globe struggle with. You can help him to overcome this lapse in memory by putting a picture of Bin Laden on the fridge with a deadline for action. This image should help him remember that when the bin is laden, it's time for the rubbish to be taken out, failing which he himself risks being taken out, metaphorically speaking.
2. Use acronyms and acrostics. Acronyms are a great way to prompt memory and are guaranteed to assist him in remembering the names of family, friends and neighbours. LOTUS will, for example, prompt him to greet your friends, Lily, Olivia, Tracey, Ursula and Sally, by name which will reflect well on you also. Acrostics are also a useful tool. Try "Leave On That Uniform Sir " for that same group of friends. Use of these tools over time helps develop the memory.
3. The thinking muscle. Like muscle, you need to use your memory so as not to lose it. The more the brain is exercised, the more information is retained and remembered and it's been shown that use of hands is one way of doing this. Learning to juggle, for example, exercises the brain by triggering hand-eye coordination, spatial-temporal reasoning and creativity. Sydney Community College runs a juggling and brain training course for those interested in pursuing this. Of course, you could save money by having your man follow you around for a day to see how juggling is really done.
4. Make his heart beat faster. Physical exercise increases oxygen to the brain and reduces the risk of diseases that lead to memory loss. There are plenty of activities that will get his heart beating so use your natural appeal and imagination or get some ideas from here.
5. Get more shut-eye. With all the exercise, he's going to need more sleep. Sleep is critical to learning and memory but with our busy lives, stressful jobs and other commitments, a good night's sleep can often be elusive. If this is a problem, buy him a good book to read before bed to relax his mind and body and lull him into a sleepy state. Take at look at these books which may do the trick.
6. Send him on a boys' night out. Yes, that's correct. The Harvard School of Public Health has conducted research into the benefits of socializing. One of the many findings was that people with the most active social lives had the slowest rate of memory decline. So, don't resent his nights out or golf days with the boys. Encourage them and reap the benefits of both his improved memory and his appreciation of your generosity in letting him loose with the lads.
7. Laughter is the best medicine. Listening to jokes and working out punch lines activates areas of the brain vital to learning and creativity. Research shows that laughter helps people to think more broadly and associate more freely, hence improving memory. There is plenty in life to laugh at, including ourselves, but if a bit of prompting is needed, point him towards the Laughter Club at Shelly Park, the Newtown Laughter Yoga Club or one of the many other groups that are practising this trendy therapy.
8. Stress less. Stress, if left unchecked, destroys brain cells and causes damage to the region of the brain involved in the formation of new memories and the retrieval of old ones. Although stress is unavoidable in our busy lives, there are ways to manage it, including meditation, yoga and other relaxation pursuits. Get some ideas here on courses and classes available near you.
9. Coffee alert. Researchers at the University of Texas have said that coffee improves alertness and focus so coffee drinkers may be better able to store information as memories. Leading journal Neurology has reported that people drinking at least three cups of coffee daily were 30 percent less likely to suffer memory loss later in life. The only coffee worth drinking is one properly brewed so why not think about sending the man in your life to a barista course to learn the finer points of bean brewing? Read some reviews on available courses here.
10. Get it 'Appening. Another way to improve memory while on the go is regular use of brain training games available for smart devices and other gaming consoles. In addition to some of the more traditional puzzles such as crosswords and sudoku, there are many games specifically designed to develop certain areas of the brain and to track progress with regular use. The assessment and tracking can be quite confronting at first (especially if, at 35 years of age, your brain age is estimated at 72) but it does encourage you to do daily training with the aim of improving.
The truth about manesia has got researchers puzzled
Postscript: The writer would like to point out that there are some advantages to occasional memory lapses on the part of men. These are primarily related to shoe and handbag purchases and credit card bills.