Try these simple methods to improve your memory. Can’t find your car keys? Your shopping list got lost somewhere in your head? You are not alone. Everyone forgets things from time to time. Still, memory loss should not be taken lightly. Although there are no guarantees when it comes to preventing memory loss or dementia, certain activities can help. Discover seven easy ways to sharpen your memory and know when to seek help for memory loss.
1. Build physical activity into your daily routine
Physical activity increases blood flow throughout your body, including your brain. This can help you maintain memory. For most healthy adults, get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes per week of intense aerobic activity, such as jogging. Preferably spread over the whole week. If you don’t have time for a full workout, do a few 10 minute walks in the day.
2. Stay mentally active
Just as physical activity helps keep the body fit, mentally stimulating activities help keep the brain fit and can even ward off memory loss . Do crossword puzzles. Play bridge. Take alternate routes when driving. Learn to play a musical instrument. Volunteer with a local organization.
3. Socialize regularly
Social interaction helps stave off depression and stress, both of which can contribute to memory loss. Look for opportunities to reunite with loved ones, friends and others, especially if you live alone.
4. Get Organized
You’re more likely to forget things if your home is cluttered and your notes are messy. Write down tasks, appointments and other events in a special notebook, calendar or electronic organizer. You can even repeat each entry aloud as you write it down to help cement it in your memory. Keep your to-do list up-to-date and check off items you’ve completed. Reserve a place for your wallet, keys, glasses and other essentials. Limit distractions and don’t do too many things at once. If you focus on the information you’re trying to remember, you’ll be more likely to remember it later. It can also be helpful to relate what you are trying to remember to your favorite song or another familiar concept.
5. Sleep well
Sleep plays an important role in helping you consolidate your memories, so you can remember them later. Make getting enough sleep a priority. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a day.
6. Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet can be as good for your brain as it is for your heart. Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose protein sources that are low in fat, such as fish, beans, and skinless poultry. What you drink matters too. Excess alcohol can cause confusion and memory loss. The same goes for drug use.
7. Manage chronic diseases
Follow your doctor’s recommendations for the treatment of your health problems, such as depression, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and hearing loss. The more you take care of yourself, the more your memory is likely to improve. Also, review your medications regularly with your doctor. Various medications can affect memory.
When to Seek Help for Memory Loss
If you are concerned about memory loss, especially if it affects your ability to carry out your usual daily activities or if you notice that your memory is getting worse, talk to your doctor. They will likely perform a physical exam and check your memory and problem solving skills. Sometimes other tests are also needed. Treatment will depend on what is contributing to your memory loss.
Larson EB. Risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia.
Livingston G, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care. The Lancet. 2018;150: 2673.
Watson NF, et al. Recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: A joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2015;10: 591.
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