No matter their age, nearly everyone wants to improve memory. Whether it’s something as simple as misplacing the car keys, or as significant as misremembering an important anniversary, the feeling of forgetting is universal to the human experience.
However, memory loss is a particular concern for seniors. Approximately 40% of people aged 65 or older have age-associated memory problems. Memory issues are so prevalent among seniors that people of all ages describe sudden memory lapses as “senior moments.”
While mild memory impairment is common as people age, many seniors worry that forgetfulness may indicate a much more severe condition, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Keep reading to find out when you should call a doctor about memory problems, as well as nine of the best ways to improve memory.
When Should You Be Concerned?
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that 1 in 10 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s dementia. Of course, that statistic means that 9 out of 10 seniors don’t develop Alzheimer’s.
How can you know whether your lapses in memory are simple signs of aging or the start of something serious? Ask a close friend or family member to tell you if you’re showing any of these life-altering symptoms:
- Asking the same questions over and over
- Forgetting common words while speaking
- Mixing up related words, like “bed” and “table”
- Taking longer to complete everyday tasks, such as following a recipe
- Putting items in inappropriate places, such as placing a wallet in a kitchen drawer
- Getting lost while walking or driving in a familiar area
- Experiencing changes in mood or behavior for no apparent reason
If you’re showing any of the signs listed above, then it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor. In the meantime, check out the nine best ways to improve memory.
9 Tips to Improve Your Memory
Although there are no guarantees when it comes to complex health problems, these nine tips from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard may help prevent cognitive decline and even reduce the risk of more serious conditions such as dementia.
Exercise Your Body
Physical activity is a great way to increase blood flow to the brain, which may play a role in sharpening memory. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults spend at least 150 minutes each week engaging in moderate activity. Can you squeeze a brisk 30-minute walk into every weekday? It might have more benefits than you realize.
Train Your Mind
While physical exercise strengthens your body, mental exercise can strengthen the mind, improve memory, and keep your brain in the best shape possible. To train your brain, try a few activities from this list:
- Do a word puzzle
- Solve a math problem
- Learn a new language
- Practice a musical instrument
- Try a craft
- Paint or draw a picture
- Play a game
- Read a book
- Take a class
- Design a garden
- Write your life story
Spend Time with Others
Socializing regularly with people you love can protect against depression and anxiety, two major contributors to memory loss. So, don’t decline that dinner invitation! Why not invite a few family members over to play a game, or join a club and make some new friends?
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep improves concentration, making it easier to remember the things you set your mind on throughout the day. Additionally, the neural connections that hold onto our memories are strengthened while we sleep, consolidating new experiences into long-term knowledge. To take advantage of this incredible natural function, make sure you’re getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.
Choose Healthy Food
Fruits and vegetables aren’t only good for your waistline, they’re also great for your mind! If you eat a balanced diet that’s low in saturated and trans fats and limit your alcohol intake to one drink per day, your brain will thank you. A healthy diet also plays a huge role in managing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, all of which can make memory loss more severe if left untreated.
Organize Your Life
It takes a lot of brainpower to remember mundane facts, like where you put your wallet or the time and date of your next doctor’s appointment. Why not simplify your routine? To maximize your brain function and save your focus for more important things, try this:
- Use a notebook, calendar, or electronic device to keep track of appointments and events
- Keep a running to-do list of important tasks, and check off each task as you complete it
- Set aside places for your essentials, such as your glasses, keys, and wallet
- Tidy up and declutter your home to minimize distractions
Learn Memorization Techniques
Increase your chances of remembering something important by using tried-and-true memorization strategies. For example, engage your senses of smell, taste, and touch when performing an unfamiliar task. Take a course to improve memory that focuses on practical ways to deal with everyday challenges. Repeat what you want to know out loud or in writing, and review it again after a few days, then after a few weeks, and finally after a few months. Create your own memory aid, such as an acronym or a short story that contains the facts or details you want to remember.
Don’t Give Up
After being exposed to negative stereotypes about aging, seniors actually tend to perform worse on memory skills. On the contrary, if you believe that you have the ability to control and improve your brain function, you’re more likely to work hard and reap the benefits. So, don’t give up on yourself!
See Your Doctor
Many health concerns cause reversible memory problems that can be treated by your doctor, like medications, smoking, minor head trauma or injury, emotional disorders, vitamin B-12 deficiency, hypothyroidism, and obesity. To reduce the likelihood of cognitive decline, follow your doctor’s instructions for managing your lifestyle, habits, and chronic conditions.
Of course, going to the doctor can require courage, especially if you suspect that a serious underlying problem is causing your memory loss. Even if you are diagnosed with a severe disorder like dementia, however, it’s best to seek treatment as early as possible so that you can begin managing your symptoms and educating yourself about the condition.
Contact the Davis Community’s Assisted Living and SNF in Wilmington NC
If you or a loved one are in need of help living a safe, active, and independent lifestyle, call the Davis Community today at 910-686-7195 or simply complete and submit our online information request form. We provide exceptional assisted living and skilled nursing services in Wilmington, NC. We offer a strong and supportive environment where your loved one will feel welcomed and part of an active community. Davis Community is pleased to offer customized concierge home care services, including meal preparation and nutritional guidance, to independent seniors living in Landfall, Cambridge Village, Wrightsville Beach, and Porter’s Neck, NC. Get to know the difference today!