Many people forget that memory is like a muscle – it needs to be trained to preserve its strength.
It’s normal to experience memory lapses over time, as the part of your brain that creates and retrieves memories – the hippocampus – loses 5% of nerve cells every decade.
For many seniors, it is beyond frustrating when they can’t remember why they walked into a room, or why they are mixing up their grandchildren’s names.
Dr Ryan Harvey from House Call Doctor says, “The sooner you start training your memory, the longer it will last as you grow older”.
Studies show that brain training can increase efficiency in performing everyday tasks and improves memory in older adults.
To train yourself to remember everyday things, Dr Harvey suggests six tips for older generations.
“Make a list — of grocery items, things to do, or anything else that comes to mind — and memorize it”, says Dr Harvey. An hour or so later, see how many items you can recall. Make items on the list as challenging as possible for the greatest mental stimulation.
“Learn to play a musical instrument or join your local choir”, says Dr Harvey. Research shows learning something new and complex over a longer period of time is ideal for the aging mind.
“Learn how to cook a new cuisine with friends or by yourself”, says Dr Harvey. Cooking uses a number of senses, smell, touch, sight, and taste, which all involve different parts of the brain.
Visualize the spelling of a word in your head, then try and think of any other words that begin (or end) with the same two letters.
Memorise four details about every person you encounter during the day. For example, let’s say someone is wearing a green sweater, blue hat, black belt and green shoes. The goal is to observe the details first and then recall them later. “The 4-details observation exercise is great with passive memory training”, says Dr Harvey.
This is a no-brainer. For your mind to have the best advantage in training its memory, you need to have the right nutrition, consistent exercise and high-quality sleep.
“Omega 3 and Antioxidants are a great nutritional combination for your mind to have the power it needs to train your memory”, says Dr Harvey. Find out what foods have Omega 3 and Antioxidants in them.
Exercising at your own level, whether it’s yoga, aerobics or walking, “increases the amount of oxygen to your brain and reduces the risk of developing disorders that lead to memory loss, such as cardiovascular disease,” says Dr Harvey.
The Sleep Foundation recommends older adults need a range of 7-8 hours sleep. Dr Harvey says, “Sleep lets our brain cement the new information we’re taking in for a better recall later on”. Missing even a few hours can significantly affect your memory, creativity, problem solving abilities and critical thinking.
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