Previous research has shown that older adults are more likely to incorrectly repeat an action in situations where a prospective memory task has become habitual — for example, taking more medication because they’ve forgotten they’ve already taken it. A new study has found that doing something unusual at the same time helps seniors remember having done the task. In the study, older adults told to put a hand on their heads whenever they made a particular response, reduced the level of repetition errors to that of younger adults. It’s suggested that 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.
(2009). Repetition Errors in Habitual Prospective Memory: Elimination of Age Differences via Complex Actions or Appropriate Resource Allocation.
Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition. 16(5), 563 - 563.