A pat on the head helps elders to remember if they took their daily dose of medicine, says a new study.
Remembering to take daily medications can be a challenge for some older adults, but new research from Washington University in St. Louis offers tips for strengthening those memories.
According to the study, doing something unusual, like knocking on wood or patting yourself on the head, while taking a daily dose of medicine may be an effective strategy to help seniors remember whether they've already taken their daily medications.
"In extended medication-taking situations, the habitual nature of the task may make it difficult for older adults to remember whether or not they took the medication on a particular day, especially if pill boxes are not used," said Mark McDaniel, lead author of the study and a professor of psychology in Arts and Sciences at Washington University.
"To remedy this potential problem, older adults could be instructed to take their medication while placing one hand on their head or in some other unusual or silly way, like crossing their arms.
"Our results indicate that older adults can use these sorts of more complex motor tasks to effectively reduce repetition errors in habitual prospective memory tasks, such as taking a daily medication," he added.
The study has been published in a recent issue of the journal Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition.