When you get older, things change. One of the changes you may notice is that your ability to focus and remember isn’t as strong as it used to be.
A slight drop in thinking and memory is normal with advanced age, as processing speeds slow down a bit. A lower level of focus can make it harder to absorb information quickly, which can slow down its ability to move into your short-term memory.
The result can be some frustration and occasionally missing an appointment or parts of conversation.
But this does not signify significant trouble or that you’re trapped. There are a few things you can do that may help increase focus and the amount of information you retain.
Engage Closely: When someone is talking to you, look at them and listen very closely. If you happened to miss something that they said, ask them to repeat or speak more slowly.
Paraphrase: When a person is finished speaking, paraphrase what they said to make sure you understood. Paraphrasing also allows you to reinforce the information you were just given. For example, if your friend says, “We can go the Mexican restaurant or the Thai restaurant for 6:30” try responding with “What works better for you: the Mexican of the Thai at 6:30?”
Limit Background Noise: If you’re easily distracted during a conversation, it may have something to do with background noise making it hard to focus. This could have a relatively easy fix: meeting at home or other quieter spaces that allow you a better opportunity to focus.
If you do find yourself in a busy, noisy environment, try to sit near a wall. That way, you aren’t getting distracting sights and sounds from every angle. Ask your companions to sit with their backs to the wall so that your distractions are limited.
Do One Thing at a Time: Multitasking is a myth; practically nobody does it well. And those that think they can get even worse at it with age. But even leaving what you’re doing to focus on something else for a moment can make it hard to retain the information.
So, if you’re doing something – cooking, reading, filling out forms – and the phone rings, don’t answer. Finish what you’re doing then schedule a call back.