Fear affects memory more than age does.
Anchorage, Alaska (PRWEB) November 18, 2012
“Can you teach an old dog new tricks?” Dr. Curry was recently asked this question when a client came to her desperate for help. Dr. Lynne Curry, Ph.D., SPHR, CEO of The Growth Company, Inc., has been an HR management consultant for over thirty years, and one of her specialties involves retraining our memory. Today she gives encouraging answers to the “aging” client.
The client (remaining anonymous) came to Lynne, worried because she just landed a new job after nearly a year of unemployment. This client had decades of experience as being an Office Manager, but said she was having a hard time finding work because “apparently no one wanted to hire an aging office manager.”
The client got hired but is freaked out because technology has dramatically changed. This company was using all the latest and greatest technology, all with which she was unfamiliar. “They handed me a smart phone that’s smarter than I am and an iPad that’s supposedly intuitive but I keep forgetting which button to push. I was supposed to take meeting notes on it but I finally started handwriting them because it didn’t have a keyboard and the touch screen just didn’t work for me. That got me some stares. The worst is that I can’t seem to remember instructions from one minute to the next and am worried that what everyone says about age and memory is true. I can’t afford to lose this job. Please help!”
Dr. Curry answers the plea for help—“Fear affects memory more than age does.”
She goes on to explain, “Anxiety prevents information from going into or out of memory. This means the minute you get nervous you stop remembering. The best way to learn new technology – forget your age, realize you’ve undoubtedly mastered more challenging issues in 40 years and relax.”
Further, Dr. Curry reveals most age-related memory issues prove to be myths. As people age, their ability to use skills, knowledge and experience and to access information from long-term memory actually improves.
The challenges older adults experience with short-term memory can be overcome with tactics. Says Dr. Curry, “What older adults most notice is that they can forget an original task if interrupted midway through.” Studies show that an older adult’s brain doesn’t always engage after an interruption. Fear compounds this and leads to a temporary mental shutdown. Dr. Curry also advises, “If you take a quick note that triggers your memory for what you were working on at the onset of the interruption, it gets you back on task.”
Although other short-term memory abilities such as the capacity to solve problems in novel situations and apply on-the-spot reasoning decline with age, communication skills, knowledge mastery and sharper decision-making generally improve with age, offsetting age-related declines, Dr. Curry explains. As two examples, older lab workers studying specimens under microscopes handled tasks more efficiently than younger workers because they knew what to look for. Mature hotel reservation clerks were more productive although they handled fewer calls because their higher communication skills resulted in more bookings.
Finally, older employees bring great value to employers in areas such as work ethic and reliability. “Although you feel you “fooled” your employer into hiring you, you’ll soon prove your worth – unless you let your fear block your success.”
Dr. Lynne Curry is a management/employee trainer and owner of the consulting firm The Growth Company Inc. Send your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org