Seasoned Service: Volunteer ‘fitness trainer’ joins memory enhancement team

Most of us would probably make a grocery list if we had a dozen items to pick up on the way home.

Tucson Medical Center volunteer Roger Eagle can get every one of those dozen items without the standard checklist. It isn’t necessarily that his memory is extraordinary; he just knows how to leverage its capacity through the use of mnemonic devices.Roger Eagle

A memory fitness trainer certified through the UCLA Longevity Center, Eagle will be sharing those techniques in memory classes starting in the late spring. The classes are designed not only to find solutions to standard memory complaints, such as forgetting names and errands, but to stimulate the brain in ways that can help protect against memory decline over time.

Eagle, 70, has had a complicated relationship with memory issues.

Eagle retired in 2003 to care for his wife, who was diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia. He had noticed things were wrong years earlier, and knew his wife’s friends were covering for her memory lapses at work.

After her condition worsened to a point he could no longer care for her, he placed her in a care home in 2008 until her death in December 2009. In response to the emotional pain of that experience, Eagle started volunteering at TMC, even as he himself struggled through a cancer diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy regimen. The volunteering, he said, “has added immensely to my life. It keeps me focused. It helps me remember that I’m not the only one out there who has had problems.”

Eagle helps advertise the classes and lectures offered through TMC for Seniors and can often be found manning the booths at health fairs. “The work being done here does help the community,” he said. “Thousands of people attend the events and I always get feedback that they really appreciate the quality and quantity of the classes.”

Eagle not only attends the lectures, but joined the Canyon Ranch Institute’s Life Enhancement Program, offered in conjunction with TMC and designed to inspire positive lifestyle changes. His meat-heavy diet of five years ago has since become more fish and plant-based and he values the social connections he makes through his volunteering.

Through his volunteering, he has never been able to bring himself to work with the groups and classes that support those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. It’s too close for him. But when he heard about the potential to teach brain fitness and memory classes, he was intrigued.

“As human beings, there’s always going to be something that’s just on the tip of your tongue, or something that you just can’t remember for the life of you,” Eagle said. “If there are ways to help the brain adapt to some of the changes that happen as we age, we should take advantage of it.”

For more information about TMC’s Senior Services programs, from volunteering opportunities to ongoing health and wellness resources and information, please visit www.tmcaz.com/TucsonMedicalCenter/Seniors or call (520) 324-1960.

 

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Rd. | Tucson, AZ 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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