Memory loss can be a scary thing. Many people, especially those aging, worry about losing their memory. We hear stories about it on the news, see movies and read books about it. We even experience those little incidences in which we can’t remember a name, a time, a date, or even a task we were trying to remember to undertake. To some degree we can chalk these lapses up to just being human, but we don’t have to make excuses for all of them. There are ways to keep your memory sharp, even as you age. Memory loss doesn’t have to be a normal part of getting older. Health agencies and government agencies encourage people to undertake “mind exercises” in order to remain sharp and alert of mind well into your life.
Try choosing a couple different exercises and working them into your life, you don’t have to wait until you’re older to do them either. It’s never to early to start keeping your mind active and sharp.
1. Take up an instrument. Learn an instrument you’ve always wanted to, or learn a new piece of music you’ve always been wanting to learn. Music is stimulating both to the ears and to the mind and both will help keep your memory sharp. Your brain will be used to activity, and that is what the goal of keeping a good memory is all about.
2. Get out there and be social. Don’t wall yourself up inside your house and sit in front of the television, your stove, or whatever else is keeping you from getting outside. Go out and be social. Invite friends to a movie, have people over for dinner and attend dinner parties or tea parties in turn. Go see a sporting event or an opera or other theatre production. The idea is to stimulate your mind and senses through social activity. Talking to others and listening to others talk is a good way to keep yourself sharp, not to mention witty and humorous!
3. “Research links physical activity with slower mental decline.” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2005). Just another reason to put on your walking shoes and take a walk, jog, hike, whatever it is you love to do. Physical activity reduces the chances of many different diseases and conditions, and it also helps in keeping your mind and memory sharp. Take up an exercise class, yoga, palates, a martial art, swimming, just anything to get you out and active. It doesn’t have to be intense exercise, just exercise.
4. Take up playing games either alone or with friends. Try playing word games or strategy games that stimulate thought and memory. You can play these on paper or on the computer, or even on a board with games such as Scrabble and Scatergories. Make a night of it with friends, a family night, or if you’re at home alone for the day pick up a pen and crossword, sudoku, or play on the computer. Hundreds of opportunities are out there on the web, so there is no excuse not to use games as a resource for memory retention as well as a source of entertainment.
5. Sharpen your senses! Write or draw things that you observe during the day. This calls upon your memory to recall objects, scenes, images, from the day so that you can conjure up words to describe it, or an image in your brain to draw it. Writers and artists also use this sort of technique to hone their skill, and it’s a great way to aid your brain in staying on top of its game.
6. Eat right! This is a fairly obvious one, but the catch is to focus in on fruits and vegetables with plenty of natural antioxidants to nourish and protect brain cells. (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2005). Go for foods with a nice bold color, it’s the easiest way to assess how many antioxidants are present. Bolder colored foods mean more brain cell saving antioxidants. Go for fruits and vegetables like oranges, berries, spinach, broccoli, carrots, etc…
7. Spice up your food. Another method to sharpen those ever important senses is to learn the names and tastes or smells of different cooking spices, and then try and match them with the smells of the spices in your food. Try and put names to the spices in foods you eat in restaurants or friend’s houses. It sounds like a strange way to stimulate your mind, but it is a great way to get in tune with your senses and this is a fantastic way to keep your mind sharp.
8. Manage your stress. Keep your stress in check, always! Deal with it as it arises in a productive manner that keeps it out of your life. Stress hormones released into your body can cause damage to brain cells thus reducing your mental health. (Mayo Clinic, 2005).
These tips aren’t hard, it just requires a bit of extra effort to keep your mental health in top shape and keep your memory sharp. Starting one or more of these activities daily will provide you with the stimulation your mind needs to be, and stay at its best. Don’t let aging take away the things that are important to you. Keep a healthy mind and memory.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2005). How to Keep Your Mind Sharp. Retrieved April 1, 2007, from Mayo Clinic Website: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/memory-loss/HA00001
Senior View Resource Center. (n.d). Aging is Just a Part of Getting Older. Retrieved April 1, 2007, from Senior View Resource Center Website: http://www.mtnviewhospital.com/Health%20Information%20Library/aging_is_older.htm
AARP. (n.d). Aging and the Brain. Retrieved April 1, 2007, from AARP Website: http://www.aarp.org/health/brain/aging/keeping_your_memory_sharp.html