Keeping Your Memory Sharp

A senior woman is looking at herself in a mirror.Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten why you went in there? For many people, it’s normal for memory to fade somewhat with age, and it isn’t necessarily a sign of a serious health condition like Alzheimer’s disease.

There are normal changes in the function and structure of your brain that cause minor lapses in memory. Researchers have spent decades studying this topic and have developed strategies to sharpen and protect your mind. Here are some ways to keep your memory sharp from Harvard and the Mayo Clinic.

  • Stay mentally active, keep learning and use all your senses: Do mental exercises – such as completing crossword puzzles, playing chess or bridge, or taking a class – to challenge your brain. If you use more senses when learning something new, you’ll use more of your brain to retain that memory, according to Harvard Medical School.
  • In your daily routine, include some physical activity: Increase blood flow to your entire body, including your brain, through physical activity, even if it’s just taking a few 10-minute walks during the day. But talk to your health care provider before starting a new exercise routine.
  • Get organized: If your house is in disarray and cluttered, you’ll be more likely to forget things. Use a calendar, notebook or electronic planner to write down appointments, tasks and events. Also, place your keys or wallet in the same spot everyday.
  • Use mnemonic devices: A mnemonic device is a tool that will help you remember information or facts. For instance, a mnemonic device used to remember the order of mathematical operations is “Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally.” Using this acronym you can remember the order of operations is parentheses, exponents, multiple, divide, add and subtract. Be creative and come up with some of your own mnemonic devices to remember lists. These could be acronyms or sentences.
  • Socialize: Interacting with others can help lift depression and alleviate stress, which can both be factors in memory loss.
  • Get enough sleep: Most adults require between seven and nine hours of sleep per day, so make it a priority. Sleep has a key role in helping to consolidate your memories in order to recall them later, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits and low-fat sources of protein, isn’t just good for your heart. It’s also good for your brain. And drink alcohol in moderation because too much can contribute to memory loss and confusion.
  • Manage your chronic conditions: If you have chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, depression, thyroid or kidney problems, high cholesterol or diabetes, follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations. Some medications can affect your memory.

At BayCare, we treat a wide range of memory disorders, with our patients receiving an array of services designed to minimize the long-term impact of the disorder. Our team of highly trained professionals from several disciplines works together to develop an individualized program to support the physical and psychological needs of each patient. For more information or a physician referral, call (888) 906-8935.