Written by Stannah
As we age, it is not uncommon to notice that our memory function may seem to decrease. Memory lapses, like the inability to recall a name or missing a doctor’s appointment, can occur at any age.
However, elderly people tend to become more upset by them due to fear that they are a sign of a mental condition like dementia or loss of intellectual function.
There is a fundamental difference between fleeting memory and significant memory loss. The latter is not a normal part of aging and is often due to extenuating circumstances such as brain injury or Alzheimer’s disease.
However, fleeting memory loss is a normal transformation in our brains as we age. These changes can be frustrating as certain cognitive processes such as learning new things, or overcoming distractions, may become more difficult.
There are various strategies that can be applied to keep our minds strong and ward off these new complications. Better Health Victoria recently published some of these tips.
1. Continue learning.
Just like any other part of your body, your brain requires exercise to stay strong. Pursuing a hobby, or learning a new skill, can function as a way to keep our minds mentally active.
Try doing a course on a subject that you’ve always been interested in, take up a hobby (YouTube videos are a great way to learn), or try reading non fiction books – the library is a resource that anyone can use.
Activities such as reading books, playing chess, writing short stories, completing puzzles or performing anything that involves a skill can help keep your mind sharp. Continuing to learn and process new information is critical since building and preserving brain connections is a lifelong commitment.
2. Keep up your physical activity for a brain boost
Keeping fit isn’t just good for your body – did you know that it’s also good for your brain, too? There are brain conditions that can be aggravated or brought about due to poor physical fitness.
To help stop this happening and deliver oxygen to the brain, you should aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity every day. This might seem like a lot, but you can easily break it up into blocks – three 10 minute blocks across the day suddenly doesn’t sound like so much of a challenge.
3. Play thinking games
There are many fun games that you can play to help keep your brain sharp. Whether you play solo, with family and friends, or as part of a social group, every little bit helps. You can try doing solo activities such as crosswords, Sudoku, games with words, or playing along with game shows on TV like Millionaire Hot Seat.
Games with other people might include things like Scrabble, chess and Trivial Pursuit, and card games such as bridge. Not only are you boosting your brain, but it’s also having fun at the same time. And if you play games with others, you’re getting that social interaction, too.
4. Use your brain wisely.
As we grow older, it is important to make best use out of the memory storage that we possess. You can choose to take advantage of products such as calendars, planners, shopping lists and address books to organize all of your static information instead of constantly trying to remember key dates and items.
Designate a place in your home where you will place common items such as your purse, wallet or keys. Minimize distractions by removing clutter in your home and office. Clearing your mind of this routine information will leave ample space to retain new information.
5. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
If you seek to remember something you’ve just heard or read, repeat it. Don’t just say it in your head, instead say it out loud and put it in writing. If you feel that you’d didn’t comprehend information at first, don’t hesitate to ask for it to be repeated. When learning a new name, be sure to use it when addressing the person.
If you place your belongings in a different location than you normally do, make a conscious effort to repeat the new location out loud. Repetition is a critical component in reinforcing a memory. If you keep practicing this repetition you will find that your recall goes up immensely.
6. Give it time.
While repetition is important, using it continuously in a short period of time as if cramming for an exam is not an effective method. It is important to re-visit the new information over incremental periods of time.
Start by refreshing your memory once an hour, then every few hours, then every day and soon these new processes will become engrained in your long-term memory. Spacing out periods of study has been shown to improve recall not only among healthy people, but also those with physically-based cognitive impairments.
7. Eat a healthy diet
Eating healthily with a balanced diet will help to boost your brain power. When choosing to eat for brain health, make sure to eat your daily dose of B vitamins, go for low GI foods to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels, and eat low fat to ensure arterial health. Omega 3s, such as found in oily fish like tuna, are also noted in optimum brain health.
It is important to understand that memory loss is common as we age. While you cannot prevent the occasional misplaced set of keys or forgotten phone number, you can take a proactive approach to keep your mind strong and healthy as you age.
Stannah Stairlifts are about helping seniors to live a life less restricted. Our range of chairlifts for the home make it easier to get about, so the home is safe and accessible for everyone.