Memory can be a fickle thing. One day you have no problem memorizing a bunch of numbers and then the next, you cannot even remember where you put your car keys.
Everyone, even young adults, can forget things every now and then. Everyone had their fair share of frustrating moments where they forget things occasionally, like the name of your elementary teacher or the whereabouts of the remote control.
However, forgetfulness is more likely to be experienced by older adults, especially those ages 65 and above.
As an individual gets older, there will be a gradual decline in their normal bodily functions and processes, including the brain.
This is why seniors can observe noticeable changes in their cognitive function, such as:
- Forgetting things easily
- Difficulty remembering new information
- Having problems in learning new things
- Losing items once in a while
- Making bad decisions occasionally
If you find yourself in these situations, don’t worry. These are typical effects of aging and not some telltale signs of a memory-related illness.
However, this does not mean that it cannot progress into something serious such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. To prevent falling prey to these debilitating conditions, you must start caring for your mental well-being as early as today.
Here are some tips for improving memory that can help you age with an intact and healthy mind.
Exercise Your Brain
After years of working non-stop, having to rest your well-worn physical and mental aspect can be freeing.
It is okay to rest; however, you should still do certain activities to keep your brain well-oiled and prevent it from succumbing to rust.
Like the muscles and other parts of your body, memory follows a particular phrase which is “use it or lose it”. It means that if you want to keep a healthy brain, then you better use it or risk losing it from aging or other medical conditions.
Moreover, the more you stimulate your brain, the better it will be in retaining and improving its normal functions.
So, despite enjoying retirement, you must shake things up a bit and engage in brain-boosting activities such as:
- Learning new things (e.g., an instrument, a language, or a skill)
- Enrolling in senior classes
- Cultivating a hobby
- Engaging in memory exercises
- Playing mind-stimulating games
You can do any activity as long as it is out of your comfort zone, challenging, and most importantly, rewarding.
Regular physical activity might seem pointless when it comes to improving your memory. The two can appear unrelated, but many studies suggest otherwise.
Studies revealed that engaging in exercise and blood-pumping activities help keep the brain sharp and healthy. Some of its benefits to your body include:
- Increasing the blood and oxygen levels in the brain, thus, increasing its activity.
- Stimulating the release of brain-boosting hormones.
- Reduces stress
- Decreases your risk of developing illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
- Prompts the growth of new nerve cells in the brain.
According to the Department of Health, older adults need at least 150 minutes of low-impact aerobic exercises spread throughout a week.
Get a Goodnight’s Rest
Sleep is the body’s time to cleanse itself, do some repair, and consolidate memories. Seniors need about seven to eight hours of sleep every night to rejuvenate the body and feel well-rested.
Moreover, getting enough sleep helps the brain gather and process each day’s information. This is how your mind strengthens short-term memories and turns them into long-lasting ones.
Having a sufficient amount of sleep results in an alert and focused mind, as well as an excellent performing memory.
Practice Mindfulness Meditation
One of the most underrated tips for improving memory is taking care of your psychological and emotional well-being.
Many people are oblivious to the fact that some psychological issues like stress, anxiety, and depression affect memory and some brain functions.
In fact, people experiencing emotional problems might encounter temporary forgetfulness and confusion that can disrupt their daily lives.
Since seniors are more prone to sudden feelings of loneliness and isolation, it is essential to engage in practices that can improve your psychological health. One such technique is mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that can become a mental habit that you can use in many situations. Some of its benefits include:
- Lowering stress
- Calming and relaxing the mind
- Helps in managing anxiety and panic disorders
- Improves memory and concentration
- Decrease the progress of age-related cognitive decline
Maintain Your Social Life
Humans are social beings that cannot survive and flourish on their own. It is in your nature to long for meaningful relationships, not just for the sake of companionship, but also for the betterment of your mental health.
Studies suggest that healthy and happy relationships—may it be romantic, platonic, or familial—stimulates the brain and keeps it in its best shape. As a result, you get to maintain a healthy and excellent cognitive state.
Take advantage of the memory-boosting effect socialization has by keeping your social circle alive. Here are several ways on how to do that.
- Spend quality time with your family and friends regularly
- Form new friendships with like-minded people through social groups
- Join senior clubs, book clubs, and other organizations that interest you
- Engage in phone calls and video conferences with close friends
- Adopt a pet
Cut Out Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices
One of the most important tips for improving memory is to lead an overall healthy lifestyle. If you haven’t yet, you need to start cutting out bad vices and trimming down on unhealthy foods. Some of the specific activities you are better off without include:
- Alcohol consumption
- Cigarette and tobacco smoking
- Eating foods high in added sugars and refined carbs
- Processed meats and junk foods
Research has shown that these things pollute the brain, specifically the part responsible for storing short-term memories. Having high levels of such chemicals in the body results in poor memory and low brain volume.
It would be best to start investing in a balanced and healthy diet that not only boosts your memory but also enhances your overall health.