You may think of memory loss as an inevitable consequence of aging. While your memory might not remain quite as sharp as it was when you were younger, there is no reason to assume that increasing forgetfulness will simply be a part of your life as you get older.
Most instances of memory loss as you age are not signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Just as you can continue to exercise your body as your age, your memory can be exercised as well.
Below are several ways seniors can keep their minds sharp as they get older:
Adjust Your Diet
Some vitamin deficiencies can cause problems with memory, so if you find you have been struggling lately, you may want to consult a doctor about putting more vitamins into your diet. Foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, might help in boosting memory.
Sleep can be particularly important because if you aren’t sleeping well, you grow fewer neurons in the brain, and this leaves you less able to remember, concentrate and make decisions.
Address Unhealthy Habits
Quitting smoking and limiting or eliminating alcohol use can also help keep your brain healthier and more agile since both contribute to circulatory disorders that affect the flow of blood to the brain.
Stress can affect memory, so you should practice healthy stress reduction techniques. The above suggestions to eat well, exercise regularly and get enough sleep can all help regulate stress.
Other types of stress reduction can be even simpler. Practicing a kind of mindfulness, in which you pay as much attention as possible to the moment you are in and what is going on around you can help. Spending time in nature or even around plants can help with stress reduction as well.
Senior centers, other community centers and gyms may have exercise classes geared especially toward seniors
Family and friends can provide the social stimulation that helps keep your mind active. Church, senior centers, book clubs, and classes are all examples of environments that provide you with important opportunities for social engagement.
Just like the rest of your body, your brain and your memory thrive on healthy living. If you are not already getting enough sleep, eating healthy food and getting regular physical exercise, you should start.
Try Memory-Building Activities
As is the case with the other muscles in your body, if you do not exercise your mind, it won’t work as well. There are many techniques you can use to make sure your brain gets the exercise it needs.
Playing word or logic games such as chess, Scrabble or Sudoku are excellent ways to keep the memory sharp.
Exposure to challenging reading material and learning new things also strengthen the memory. This could be a great time to learn a new language or anything else that you have wanted to learn but did not have time for earlier in life.
While retirement is a dream for many, some older adults choose to keep working partly in order to keep their minds active. But learning new things does not always have to mean taking on a huge project. Even learning new recipes or practicing memorization of grocery lists can help.
On the other hand, there’s no reason to make your brain work harder than it has to in order to keep up with such simple, everyday things like where you keep your car keys. Give your brain a break and have a designated place for all the items that you use regularly so you aren’t constantly scrambling to find your purse, wallet or coat.
Another element of organization is avoiding distraction. People of all ages struggle more to remember things if they are distracted. Seniors, in particular, should make an effort to focus on one task at a time.
Your senior years are called “the golden years” for a reason. Far from facing a slow decline, you can look to these years as an opportunity to spend more time building relationships and engaging in activities that you love. The added bonus is that these activities will help keep your memory strong and healthy for years to come.