Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Memory Sharp

July 9, 2019

Have you ever struggled to remember the name of an acquaintance, place, or even a favorite TV show? When you go out, do you have trouble recalling whether you turned off the stove or locked your front door? As frustrating as these occurrences may be, they’re also natural.

Minor memory lapses happen to people of all ages, though memory loss can increase with age and become more pronounced over the years.

Thankfully, there are several creative ways to help stave off memory lapses. The next time you find yourself struggling to remember something, try one of these tips and tricks:

Write Tings Down: It sounds obvious, but writing things down – an appointment, the name of someone you just met, etc. – can be a very helpful memory tool. Perhaps try keeping a journal of important dates and names that you can easily refer to; this way, all the information you need will be in one convenient place.

Say Things Out Loud: If you’re having trouble remembering if you’ve completed certain tasks after leaving your home, try saying the task out loud as you’re doing it. For example, say, “I’m turning off the stove” as you turn it off . This gives you an extra verbal reminder when you’re racking your brain later trying to recall whether your stove is off or not. This can also be helpful when meeting someone new. If a person introduces himself as Bill, say, “Nice to meet you, Bill” in response. It will help you recall his name the next time you see him.

Use a Mnemonic Device: A mnemonic is any technique used to help you remember something. For example, when memorizing a list, try grouping the items as an acronym. If you need milk, apples, and cheese at the store, you can jog your memory by grouping them as “MAC” in your mind. Then instead of remembering three things, you only have to remember one word.

Have a Designated “Stuff ” Spot: Are you constantly misplacing your “stuff ,” whether it’s your keys, phone, wallet/purse, etc.? Having a designated area – a table by the front door, or a desk, for example – where you always drop your items when you come home will go a long way in helping you avoid scrambling to find something you need.

Use Visual Images: When learning something new, create a visual image in  your mind to associate with what you’ve learned. It could be something simple, like a picture of a flower if someone’s name is Rose, or something more whimsical. Just make sure it’s memorable so you can associate it with the new thing you’ve learned the next time you need to remember it.

Concentrate and Relax: Plenty of things can be distracting when you’re trying to memorize something new, from a blaring TV screen to background noise on a busy street. Make sure to pay close attention and concentrate on whatever it is you’ll need to remember. It may sound simple, but a lack of initial concentration is a big reason why we can forget things so quickly.

If you still feel as though you’re having memory problems, be sure to rule out other causes of memory loss. If you suspect that you are having memory difficulties, consult your doctor.

Let’s Play a Game… Again!

May 13, 2019

Whether it’s to stay in touch with loved ones, access email, or keep track of appointments, smartphones play an important role for many Sterling Court residents. But there are also several great games for your smartphone that are fun and can help keep your mind sharp – and a variety you can play with your friends.

Mobile games are a great way to pass the time and usually easy to learn. Many of them are free to download and play, too. And if mobile games aren’t your cup of tea, there are a number of great board and card games that you can play with friends and family – you might even find yourself organizing a Sterling Court game night!

You can find these free mobile games by opening the App Store on your smartphone and searching for them by name, while most of the traditional games we mention can be found at toy stores like Five Little Monkeys in Burlingame and Talbots Toyland in San Mateo. And remember, some of these mobile games, while free to download, may ask you if you want to make purchases within the game for extra levels, upgrades, etc. Disregard these prompts and continue to enjoy the games for free. And if you have any questions about downloading games, the Sterling Court computer classes with Juan are a great place to learn.

Mobile Games

Words With Friends: A game very similar to Scrabble that matches you with a randomly selected player or a friend or family member who has also downloaded the game. Challenging and fun, some of the most competitive games can take days to complete. Practice with this game and then join in the Scrabble games at Sterling Court!

Candy Crush: One of the most popular mobile games of all time, Candy Crush is a puzzle game that asks you to match like candy pieces together to clear a level. Beware, because it can be very addicting!

Word Search Pro: If you love working on word search puzzles but don’t want to keep buying puzzle books, try this game instead.

Solitaire: Do you love to play solitaire but don’t have a deck of cards handy? Or are you unable to shuffle cards in order to play? Problem solved! The classic game in all its glory is readily available on your smartphone.

Dots: Simple, fun, and addicting, Dots is a game that challenges you to connect dots of the same color vertically, horizontally, or in a square. It doesn’t sound like much, but it can be incredibly challenging.

Jigsaw Puzzles Real Jigsaws: All the fun of completing a jigsaw puzzle without worrying about where to put it once you’ve completed it. It’s easier on your hands, too.

Traditional Games
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Cranium: Be the first to circle the board by successfully solving puzzles and other challenges that will have you acting, guessing, sculpting, sketching, and humming.

Ticket to Ride: Claim as many North American railway routes as you can by collecting illustrated train cards and reaching more cities than your opponent within a short amount of time.

Bugs in the Kitchen: Set the path and lure the little scuttling bug into your trap before anyone else. No Thanks! A card game where you try to get the lowest score by constantly weighing the potential consequences of picking up a particular card or playing one of your chips.

Liar’s Dice: Outlast your opponents by successfully deceiving them and recognizing when they are bluffing you.

Balderdash: Fool the other players by trying to make them believe your fake answers or definitions represent the truth about obscure words, people, or movies.

Where Words Come From

March 18, 2019


This phrase means not a moment to spare; at the latest time possible; just making it under the wire. People have been saying it for more than two thousand years, as it is from the Bible. The Biblical origin is from Matthew XX, 1 16: “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a householder, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard … And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle … He said unto them, ‘Go ye also into the vineyard …that shall ye receive.’ Those who came at the eleventh hour received payment, just as those who had came early in the morning.” Perhaps, it is never too late to receive a penny – or salvation, even at the “eleventh hour.”


This phrase means to act at the most fitting moment; to seize the most favorable opportunity. It was the blacksmith who was originally supposed to do this. If he failed to swing his hammer while the metal on the anvil was still glowing, nothing would do but to start up the forge again and reheat the iron. His time was lost. This is a very old English phrase and first found in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1386: “Right so as whil that Iren in hoot men shoulder smite.” By the way, it is interestingly fun to see how our English spelling has changed in the last 650 years.

Tips and Tricks to Make Daily Tasks Easier

February 20, 2019

Do-it-yourself (DIY) “life hacks” are popular these days, and for good reason: they’re often simple, inexpensive ways to make your everyday life a little easier to manage.

For seniors especially, certain day-to-day tasks can be done more efficiently with just a few of these life hacks. And while DIY projects may sometimes seem daunting and unapproachable, there are plenty of them that are easy to accomplish. Here are some you might want to try:

Improve Your Grip

If you’re having trouble holding on to your coffee cup in the morning or your glass of water in the afternoon, try this simple remedy: take a few simple rubber bands and wrap them around the object you’re trying to grip. This trick could also work for smaller, thinner objects like pens or toothbrushes. And if you’re stymied by the lids on your jars, keep a pair of rubber gloves around the house to helpgive you an extra bit of traction when trying to open them.

Organize Your Refrigerator

It happens to everybody: you buy too many things at the supermarket, and when you go to store them in your refrigerator, you push to the back other items you may want access to in the future. Rather than trying to reach into the back of the fridge, try adding a small, inexpensive Lazy Susan on the shelf. It would allow you to simply rotate your refrigerated items from front to back without worry.

Smooth Out Sharp Corners

Banging your knee on a table can be painful and cause bruising. Avoid these hazards by cushioning sharp furniture corners with moldable putty, which can be found at stores like Michael’s or Target, or with stick-on table guards that are easily found on Amazon. And if these solutions seem a little too DIY for your tastes, simple bubble wrap left over from a package will tape on and do the trick, too.

Make Your TV Remote User-Friendly

Having trouble making out the numbers on your remote control? Try using round bump dots. Found in stores like Target or Bed Bath & Beyond, these inexpensive stickers can be a great help. Try putting them on power, volume, channel up/down, and/or guide.

Shower More Safely

Soap can get slippery in the shower, and if it ends up on the ground it’s not only inconvenient but a falling hazard as well. You can prevent this potentially dangerous situation with a simple hack: take an old pair of panty hose and cut it in half so you’re left with only one leg (gentlemen, you can ask a Sterling Court lady friend for the other half of hers). Place the bar of soap in the foot of the hose, then tie the other end either behind the shower head or on a grab bar. That way, you can lather up without fear of losing your grip.

These are just a few DIY hacks you can try. Be creative, and you might just come up with a few to add to this list on your own!

Where Words Come From

February 11, 2019

FLIRT – Where did the word “Flirt” come from? The answer is not until the middle of the 1700s, when the word was used as a verb meaning “to move jerkily.” At a gathering of the cream of London Society, there was a vivacious young widow, who shot one and then another man with an engaging smile. As they talked, she flirted her fan back and forth to capture even more attention. Lord Chesterfield observed Lady Frances Shirley, assessed the situation and snorted, “It’s plain to see she’s flirting.” The term quickly entered standard speech, so now anyone who makes playfully, romantic overtures is called a flirt.

“X” FOR A KISS – Where did the word X FOR A KISS come from?

The custom of putting Xs at the end of letters to symbolize kisses grew out of medieval legal practices. In order to indicate good faith and honesty, the sign of St. Andrew was placed after the signature on all important papers. This sign looked like the letter “X”. Each signer of a contract was then required to kiss the cross to guarantee faithful performance of the obligations.

Over the centuries, the origin of the ceremony was forgotten. People associated X for the kiss instead of the pledge of good faith, and the modern custom was born.

BRIDEGROOM – Where did the word BRIDEGROOM come from? Modern usage of the word “groom” stands for a male servant or stable boy who is responsible for the care of horses. In the past, a groom was any person who performed a menial task. Also, long ago, marriage ceremonies included a feast, and in Europe, the man was expected to act as a waiter to his new bride. He was the “bride’s groom,” now shortened to Bridegroom.

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