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PERSONAL:  Arthur Maltby, author of various books, some on information retrieval methods, taught at two universities before joining the Scottish equivalent of OFSTED.  Have chaired the Deeside & Wirral U3A Network committee; am one of two people running a memory workshop which has been given at about a dozen U3As, and regularly at Heswall.

NEED & OPPORTUNITY; There is much demand for memory courses, especially with dementia now being a major cause of death. Participants differ in needs, but whenever possible memory matters should be picked up early, before deterioration. The brain does not necessarily decline with age. Regular gentle mind exercise is a great boost to memory powers.

TYPES OF MEMORY MAINTENANCE COURSE: There are basically two and their 'philosophy’ differs.

(a) A session or sessions, covering a spectrum of needs, assuming takers are not necessarily yet worried about memory loss (but being gentle with those who are), adapts the advice of published literature on memory to fit a wide range of Third Age needs.  Barnsley U3A runs a course of this kind, similar to the one at Heswall. We are not medics (nor are most authors of memory literature) but take care to conform with the best current cognitive advice. Retired GPs have attended and commended. 

(b) A strictly ‘defensive’ course, basically medical, which glances at wider health issues stressing the need to avoid anxiety, was devised at Aughton & Ormskirk U3A, by a clinical psychologist, the late Dr. Sylvia Dillon.  This provides workbooks and has been taken up by many U3As. Sylvia’s work is highly distinctive: some material is still available. It is labour intensive for any enthusiastic local tutor and some (including Aughton & Ormskirk and also Heswall) no longer run it. Two U3As which have used this and also experienced the work of the current Heswall team, regarded the two ‘philosophies’ as complementary.

ADVISOR ASPIRATIONS: I anticipate, for the next decade, “memory matters” becoming a major growth area within the U3A. There is relatively little up to date material specifically geared to the needs of Third Agers. Efforts are being made to generate resources, suitable for gentle memory maintenance in later life, which can be made available to all U3As.

INVITATION: You might want to deliver a course, or to have suitable material for members to acquire or consult. Please DO contact me if you think i may be able to give any practical help or advice.