Memory Matters hosted its “Your Amazing Brain” conference March 12, and as expected, the conference was a sell-out. Dr. Nussbaum was truly amazing, and his message was clear.

He reiterated what we teach in our Brain Booster class: Our society must understand that the key to having a strong, healthy brain begins at an early age.

Kids need to eat a proper diet, exercise, wear headgear during sports, and not indulge in unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol or smoking.

Additionally, Dr. Nussbaum talked about other ways to keep a healthy brain.

Listen, listen, listen: Typically, when we meet someone for the first time, we are not truly listening. We might be so eager to talk, rather than listen, that we miss important things that could help us remember someone’s name.

When we return home, no effort is made to “encode” the name into our memory. It is no wonder we cannot remember names.

Let me give an example of the right way to remember a name. At a social gathering I am introduced to Lynne Hummell for the first time. While at the party I meet many people but I want to remember Lynne.

To do this I associate her first name with another friend I have named Lynne. Done!

Now for this last name. I imagine Lynne driving a huge “Hummell Hummer” across the desert. She even has on a little hat in the shape of the Hummer. I recall that image several times until I know I will not forget her last name.

In addition, when I first meet Lynne, I repeat her name several times during the conversation; “Nice to meet you, Lynne. Have you lived here for long, Lynne?” It works!

Meditation has proven to be one of the “go-to” methods to help with memory. Why? Meditation helps us learn how to relax and to remove negative thoughts from our brain. Negative thoughts can bring on depression, and depression can lead to memory loss.

If you consider meditation, start slowly, maybe five minutes or until you get antsy and need to move. Information on various ways to meditate can be found online or in books.

Two of my favorite online sites are or The sites are free to use.

Learning to improve our memories is similar to starting an exercise program. Find activities that you like, but that challenge your brain.

Learning something new is how to keep neurons growing. If there is not a medical reason why our memory is impaired, we can improve it at any age. Age is just a number.

People are living longer. It is not unusual to live until 80 or 90 and have an active life, and to do this we need a healthy brain.

Memory Matters will begin a spring Brain Booster class April 16. This 10-week course is on Thursdays from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Registration for the class can be made by calling 843-843-6688.

Karen Doughtie is assistant director of Memory Matters, serving Bluffton and Hilton Head.