Six ways to improve your memory.
Lose your car keys again? Can’t remember where you parked the car? Forgot the name of your neighbor? Don’t be alarmed.
Everyone is forgetful at times. It’s easy to fear the worst when your memory doesn’t work like it should, but keep in mind that minor lapses in memory usually don’t signal Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other serious neurological disorders. As you age, your brain slowly undergoes changes in its functioning and structure causing occasional forgetfulness. But that doesn’t mean you should accept memory issues without putting up a fight.
The following six ways to sharpen memory are beneficial for anyone, whether your memory works just fine or you’re beginning to experience frequent forgetfulness.
1. Stay Physically Active
The number one way to improve your memory and slow the onset of dementia is getting regular exercise, which keeps your body in shape and your mind as well. Studies have shown exercise increases the amount of blood flow to your brain, causes new neuron growth in the brain, and counteracts the normal brain shrinkage that happens with age. The younger you begin exercising, the better your memory will be down the road—so don’t wait until you’re elderly to hit the gym. A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise (walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (jogging) are recommended each week.
2. Stay Mentally Active
A second way to protect and improve your memory is through mentally stimulating activities. Do the daily crossword puzzles, read a book, practice a musical instrument, play a board game, write in a journal, play a computer game, or participate in a new, unfamiliar activity. Studies have shown that being curious, creative, and open to new ideas and experiences seem to delay memory loss.
Also, having a job that requires working with people in complex situations (mentoring, persuading, supervising) or working with complicated data both seem to reduce one’s risk for cognitive impairment. So if you’re at a crossroads in life and are trying to figure out what to do with your life, don’t take the easy path.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet
Healthy foods aren’t only good for a healthy heart and weight management. They’re also good for your brain. For more memory, eat a diet full of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Choose lean protein sources such as fish and poultry, and drink plenty of water and consume alcohol only in moderation. Too little water or too much alcohol will lead to confusion and forgetfulness.
You may also be interested to learn that a diet of antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits and veggies, early in life will lower your risk of dementia. How? Dementia is associated with inflammation and damage from oxidative stress, both of which are reduced by antioxidants.
4. Reduce Risk for Chronic Conditions
Health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, chronic stress, heart disease, and obesity have all been associated with dementia. By taking care of yourself and managing health conditions through diet and exercise, you’ll reduce your risk for developing memory loss.
In the event you’re taking medication for other conditions, consult with your physician. Some medications may impair your memory. If yours is causing this problem, seek an alternative.
5. Practice Dental Hygiene
Oddly enough, studies show a correlation between periodontal disease in young people and an increased risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life. So take care of your teeth. Brush at least twice a day, floss daily, and have a dental check-up every six months.
6. Get Organized and Stay Focused
If your surroundings are cluttered and unorganized, you’re more likely to forget things. Keep a to-do list for each day or week in order to stay on track with your responsibilities. Have a specific location in your home where you keep your keys, glasses, phone, and wallet or purse, so they can be easily found.
Keep forgetting important names, places, or information? You may be suffering from sensory overload. Limit distractions and avoid multitasking while you’re trying to focus, and watch your memory soar to new heights!
When to Seek Help.
Memory loss should not be ignored. If your memory loss becomes more than occasional forgetfulness, if it causes you worry, or if it affects daily activities, seek medical attention. Improving your memory will be an unforgettable experience.
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