People at any age can experience a “senior moment.” However, there is a misconception that older people are simply more forgetful than their younger counterparts. While it may take longer for seniors to retrieve information as fast as young adults, this doesn’t necessarily equate to a bad memory. There are ways to naturally boost your brain’s capacity for retrieving stored information quickly and efficiently. At the same time it is also important to know when to seek a doctor’s advice in the case of a suspected medical condition is affecting your memory.
Here are 10 affective ways seniors can keep their memory sharp.
1. Don’t Fall Victim to Stereotypes
Memory loss is misconceived as an old person’s problem, when in fact it can occur at any age depending on lifestyle habits and overall health. A positive mindset can help keep your memory sharp along with other activities. The more you fall into the “senior moment” stereotype, the older and flustered you will feel.
2. Take Your Time Solving Problems
In today’s fast-paced world, people are expected to remember information instantaneously. As you age, the brain slows down, so you might not necessarily have forgotten the information, but it may take the brain longer to retrieve it. Pressuring yourself to quickly solve problems will only rattle your brain further, making information retrieval that much harder. It is important to cut yourself some slack so you are better able to focus.
3. Socialize on a Regular Basis
Not only is getting together with friends and loved ones a great way to stay active, but the Mayo Clinic says the depression-fighting effects can help ward off memory loss in the long-run. This could help explain why socially active seniors tend to have sharper memories than their less active counterparts.
4. Keep Your Brain Active
One of the reasons why young adults have an easier time remembering information is because they are more likely to challenge themselves on a regular basis. This age group is also privy to the juggling that comes with working a full-time job in conjunction with raising a family. Even if you are already retired and the kids are all grown up, you can still help keep your mind sharp by keeping the brain active with as many challenging activities as possible. Reading, puzzles and board games can all be memory boosters, as well as taking classes at a community college.
(Also read: How To Boost Brain Function & Power For Seniors.)
5. Keep a Journal
Writing helps improve brain function and through increased visualization. Whether you want to write down the day’s events for later reference or utilize a notebook as a calendar, the very act of writing can enhance your memory right away.
6. Avoid Multi-Tasking
Overloading the brain with new information increases the risk of not being able to retain it for later use. Instead it is best to take your time with a single task for the best results, whether it is reading, studying or learning a new activity.
7. Exercise Multiple Times a Day
Working out helps ward of obesity and depression, but regular activity also increases blood flow in the brain to sharpen memory. The Mayo Clinic recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous workouts every week for the average adult. However, this doesn’t have to all be accomplished at once. Shorter bouts of exercise throughout the day improve memory better than one long activity.
8. Stay Hydrated
Drinking at least eight glasses of water per day not only removes toxins from the body, but it also helps to ward of dehydration. Seniors are more likely to get dehydrated because they may not recognize the signals as easily. Lack of water can lead to confusion, fatigue and memory problems. Instead of waiting for dehydration to get the best of you, continue to sip on water throughout the day—even if you don’t feel particularly thirsty.
9. Focus on Memory-Boosting Foods
Not only do certain activities have potential boosts in cognitive abilities, but select foods may also sharpen your memory. Berries are of particular importance because the antioxidants are thought to help prevent cellular damage in the brain from free radicals. Furthermore, eating daily servings of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries or raspberries may even affect neuron signals within the brain to help retrieve information more efficiently. Other memory-boosting foods include:
- Avocadoes, fish and olive oil—the healthy fats can help improve blood circulation in the brain
- Vitamin E in the form of nuts, brown rice, eggs and seeds
- Moderate amounts of caffeine (limit intake to one to two beverages per day)
- Whole grains—lower glucose levels aid in concentration
- Tomatoes. According to the Huffington Post, the lycopene content may decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s
10. See a Doctor if Your Condition Worsens
While it is normal to forget simple information once in a while, such as a street name or the name of an acquaintance, forgetting more personal information could be signs of a more serious underlying condition. Such symptoms may include forgetting everyday tasks, your name, family members, close friends and where you live. Alzheimer’s, dementia, head injuries and stroke are all possible causes. Thyroid disease, depression and medication intolerance may also cause increased forgetfulness in a short amount of time. A physical exam, blood work and problem-solving tests may be ordered to help your doctor properly diagnose and treat your condition.
Your memory is like a muscle that must be nourished and conditioned on a regular basis in order to function properly. When you treat your memory in such a way, you will find retrieving information easier than before. Always see a doctor if you have any specific concerns about your memory or if you experience sudden drops in cognitive function