How to Keep Your Memory Sharp: 3 Tips to Try Today

What’s your biggest concern when it comes to aging?

Affordable health care?
Physical health?
Retirement plans?
How about memory loss?

For 35% of older Americans, memory loss is a top concern of aging. And 38% of professionals agree.

Do you ever….

  • Talk to a friend about a book you’re reading but forget the name of the main character?
  • Start driving to the store, but halfway there you can’t remember where you’re going?
  • Miss appointments, frequently lose your glasses, or forget the steps to your favorite pot roast recipe?
  • These lapses in memory are frustrating, but most of the time, they aren’t a concern for more serious problems, like mild cognitive impairment or dementia.

    And even if you’re healthy, it’s okay to experience forgetfulness as you age.

    However, there are steps you can take to prevent cognitive decline and increase your chances of maintaining a healthy memory.

    First, consider a health screening. An article in the BMJ recommends a memory screen if:

  • You’re 65 or older
  • Have been diagnosed with an illness (for example, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or stroke disease) which increases the possibility of dementia
  • Or have a family history of dementia
  • Then, read below for easy (we promise) steps you can take to be sharp as a tack.

    Here’s a tip: Jot down notes on everything you learn—and want to try—in this post. Putting pen to paper boosts your memory and the ability to retain concepts.

    Get healthy

    If you’re one of our regular readers, you’ve noticed we talk about healthy choices often.

    But that’s because it works. In 2015, the Boston University School of Medicine found more evidence that exercise is beneficial for brain and cognition.

    People who eat right, exercise regularly, and break bad habits live their life with more vitality and strength. And we’re not talking about bodybuilders or marathon runners. These are average Joes and Janes who make small choices that reap big results.

    For example, they don’t smoke and limit their alcohol intake. And they engage in moderate to intense exercise for 20 to 30 minutes each day.

    Here’s a blog post we wrote with a few suggestions of exercises you can do at home.

    They also eat vegetables and lean meats instead of burgers with fries.

    Can you treat yourself occasionally? Sure!

    But, those occasions are exactly that—a treat. If you want to feel more confident both mentally and physically, then start today with making healthy decisions. Foods that increase memory include avocados, blueberries, broccoli, salmon, walnuts, and—wait for it—dark chocolate.

    Socialize (offline)

    Socializing can also boost your memory. In fact, a study in California reported older women who maintained large social networks reduced their risk of dementia and delayed or prevented cognitive impairment.

    A large social network could be three to five close friends or 15 to 20 acquaintances.

    When you engage socially, you have to process what other people say and then think about how to respond. This activity stimulates your brain.

    Not sure how to escape the hermit life and get social? Make a list of activities you enjoy. Like reading, walking, or cooking. Find groups or classes on Facebook or Meetup that do what you love. Or start your own!

    Reduce Stress

    Whether you’re 25 or 55, stress puts a strain on your brain—or in more technical terms, it increases the stress hormone cortisol and affects brain function.

    Studies show when you’re stressed, electrical signals in the brain associated with factual memories weaken. And areas of the brain related to emotions strengthen.

    That’s why you not only forget your keys but cry about it too.

    So, how do you reduce stress? Easy.

  • Exercise
  • Eat foods that are antioxidant rich—like fruits, veggies, green tea, and dark chocolate
  • Meditate each morning. Here’s a guide for beginners.
  • Notice a common theme here?

    It’s time to ask yourself what’s more important. Spending hours in front of the TV snacking? Or having a strong memory and sharp mind?

    We understand breaking habits and creating new ones is hard—especially as you age. But if you can overcome it, you’ll feel more confident in your interactions with other people.

    Need help getting started? Give us a call. We’ll assess your health and help you create a plan to get your mind back on track.