We live in a fast paced society these days where activity and technology swirl so fast around us that it is often difficult keep track of anything, much less everything. Many of us have the experience of walking into a room then wondering why we are there. Or we misplaced our keys or a bill to be paid and while we are sure they are here, we just can’t remember why they aren’t in the place we put them! Or all of sudden, the name of your next door neighbor just escapes you.
It is entirely normal that as we age, memory slips become more common and normal. It does
not mean that we are at the onset of Alzheimer’s or have any serious issue. But there are things to do to help strengthen memory and reduce the stress of misplacing and losing things.
- Remember that car drive from the store where your mind is running over the list of things to do when you get home? The laundry needs to get out the machine and into the dryer, the frozen food needs to get in the freezer, the mail needs to be brought in and you need to call your friends to remind them of Friday night’s dinner plans. SLOW DOWN. Many of us are so busy processing our world that we misplace things and thoughts just from being overwhelmed. Make a list of things you need to do but focus on one thing at a time. That way, you won’t set your keys down somewhere in the rush to move the laundry, and then wonder where they are.
- Establishing routines is extremely important as we mature. It once again has to do with slowing down. When you park your purse/wallet in the same space you establish a routine that assures you know it is where it is supposed to be. It will be the first place you look.
- Laugh!! We all know that “laughter is the best medicine” and science has proven that laughter engages multiple areas of your brain. Move toward laughter when you hear it, laugh at yourself. surround yourself with people who know how to enjoy life. As psychologist Daniel Goleman notes in his book Emotional Intelligence, “laughter helps people think more broadly and associate more freely.” It does indeed help your memory and on top of that, it is FUN.
- A major key to maintaining and improving memory is to eat a healthy diet. Omega 3’s are especially good for brain health. Fish is a particularly good source of Omega 3’s. If you are not keen on fish, walnuts, kidney and pinto beans, broccoli, spinach and winter squash are great brain food. Colorful fruits are great superfoods and green tea has been shown to slow brain aging and enhance mental alertness. Oh, and one (remember … ONE) glass of red wine a day may actually enhance memory.
- Physical exercise is known to improve memory, particularly aerobic exercise. Anything that is good for your heart is good for your brain. A short walk or a brief exercise break can re-boot your brain. On the flip side, sleep is equally important. People who are sleep deprived experience compromised problem solving skills, focus and critical thinking skills. So keep life in balance …. Exercise and get your Zs.
- Learn something new. Look for activities that start out easy but become increasingly more challenging as you advance. Playing a musical instrument, word games and things that reward your brain are very good at keeping you engaged. Take a different route driving home. ANYTHING that you find enjoyable and satisfying and are challenging will improve memory and focus.
- If you live alone (and even if you don’t) …. SOCIALIZE. Isolation initiates a myriad of problems for many people from depression and loneliness to actual illness. Socializing engages you in new and relevant conversation. Whether it is retelling stories from your past or sharing new current events, your brain is engaged. So when you are invited to an event or a lunch … GO.
Memory loss is nothing to stress about … but it is nothing to take lightly either. It is a natural part of aging but you can impact maintaining a sharp mind. Remember … slow down, eat well, exercise, socialize, play mind challenging games. And don’t forget to laugh.