Although forgetfulness becomes inevitable at a certain age there are many things you can do to improve memory loss. Read on to discover some of the most effective techniques that will supercharge your mind!
The ability to recall information stored in our brain can be divided into long-term, short-term, and immediate recall. People with memory loss may have problems with all three types. Long-term memories that represent milestones in life, like your wedding day, are typically the easiest to recall. Remembering something that someone just said to you involves immediate recall and is typically the most challenging for people with memory disorders.
Memory loss becomes increasingly common as we age. Beginning at around age 65 about 40% of all people will develop age-associated memory loss. Ten percent of those people will develop mild cognitive (thought) impairment and 15% of them will go on to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia (severe memory loss).
Seek Out The Familiar
As you age, spending time in familiar situations will help allow you to recall information that is stored in long-term memory. Spending time with family and friends is a great way to relive memories. Looking at old photos has a similar benefit. People who isolate themselves from social interaction are more likely to develop disorientation and dementia. Traveling and revisiting familiar places can help maintain memories associated with that particular environment.
Multitasking can make mental focus difficult in people with memory problems. Make a list of things you want to do for the day and begin with the one that is most important. Complete each task before moving on to the next one. It is better to complete a few tasks correctly than do a larger number poorly. Multitasking can also produce anxiety, which may worsen recall.
Look Deep Within Yourself
Meditation, yoga, and Tai-Chi are all examples of great ways to focus your thoughts and improve overall cognitive function. These disciplines connect mind with body and help the brain approach day-to-day activities more efficiently. Find an environment that is naturally relaxing with minimal interruptions. Make it your special place and look forward to visiting there each day while you perform these activities.
The importance of a healthy diet cannot be overemphasized. Meals that are high in cholesterol and fat can accelerate “hardening of the arteries” that bring blood to the brain and worsen your memory. Inconsistent meal planning and eating erratically can cause your blood sugar to be too low or high, especially if you are diabetic. Significant variations in blood sugar can affect overall brain function and recall.
Vitamins Can Improve Memory The following vitamins can improve memory loss. They can be found in abundance in a healthy diet. Vitamin supplementation may also be helpful in certain instances.
B Complex Vitamins
- Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
- Folic Acid (B9)
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
For more information on which foods contain these vitamins and how they can help memory loss see Vitamins Help Memory Loss – Think About What You’re Missing!
Creative and abstract pursuits can help improve memory by using multiple areas of the brain simultaneously. Find an activity you like that mentally challenges you and make it a frequent part of your day.
Play Music – Music engages the auditory (hearing) center as well as the motor (movement) area of the brain. Listening to and playing music have both been found to be beneficial, but musicians can get an additional benefit from the abstract process of composition or improvisation.
Make Art – Art engages both the visual (seeing) and motor (movement() areas of the brain. Art and music both engage the prefrontal lobe (the front part of the brain) for use in abstract decision-making.
These activities generally involve the front part of the brain (prefrontal and frontal lobes), since they tend to be more analytical in nature.
Do Puzzles – Puzzles of all types improve memory by utilization problem-solving ability plus visual skills. Puzzles can be less familiar than music and art, since the solution to every puzzle is different.
Solve Problems – Activities involving mathematical calculations require planning and complex thinking to first define the problem and then seek a solution. This type of activity is ideally suited for people with prior training in the analytical sciences like engineering, physics, and chemistry.
Relax & Minimize anxiety – Anxiety is “memory’s evil twin”. We have all had the experience of forgetting something you were supposed to do on a hectic day, or failing to recall an answer during a stressful exam. For some good ideas see Mind Relaxation Techniques – A Healthy Escape From Reality.
Sleep Regularly – Sleep deprivation or a fragmented sleep pattern can definitely affect cognitive function and lead to significant memory issues. Try to establish a sleep time that makes sense and stick to it.
Exercise Regularly – Exercise improves mood and increases blood flow to the brain. Exercising with others can create a socially interactive routine that helps with many types of recall.
Seek Sunlight – Sunlight has been shown to naturally improve and shorten periods of minor depression. Try to get outdoors during the day on a regular basis.
Read – Reading can be a relaxing way to improve cognitive skills. Try to target reading materials that are enjoyable but require attention to detail.
Engage Your Senses
Engaging your senses is one of the best ways to improve or stabilize problems with your memory. Sensory stimulation can relax your mind and body and creates associations to particular experiences and events that are easier to remember at a future date. Combining sensory experiences can have an additive effect on recall improvement.
Sight – View beautiful landscapes, paint, draw, sculpt, watch TV
Sound – Listen to sounds in nature, enjoy and play music, sing, laugh, verbally interact with people
Touch – Hold babies, touch loved ones and friends, interact with pets
Smell & taste – Eat new things, use aromatherapy
Embrace Ancient Wisdom
Acupuncture has been an integral part of oriental medicine for the past 2,500 years. It has been shown to improve some mild cognitive disorders as well as memory loss resulting from anxiety-associated recall. When combined with other treatment modalities, acupuncture can effectively treat symptoms of pre-dementia and help stabilize more serious memory disorders. Treatments may need to be performed on a regular basis to achieve and maintain an effective clinical response. For further info see Wikipedia’s article on acupuncture.
There are many ways to improve memory loss. An excellent approach is to choose a combination of modalities to create an individualized routine that addresses your particular recall issues.
Do not become overwhelmed with this process. Begin with a basic set of activities that you enjoy and add more things to do as you go, until you begin to see improvement. Get feedback from your family and friends. They can help you objectively evaluate your progress and make suggestions to help you make improvements along the way.
Tell Us What You Think!
Please let us know what’s on your mind in the comment section.
- Do you have any important tips or suggestions?
- Do you know anyone with memory loss or dementia?
- How are they and their family members coping with the problem?