Having trouble remembering where you left the grocery list? Or, maybe you can’t find the car key for like the fifth time in a week? Well, don’t lose heart, everyone tends to forget things at times. But there are ways to help boost that memory of yours while you still can. There’s an old saying, “Use it, before you lose it!” Of course this can relate to not just your memory. But it is still true in many aspects of life, especially when it comes to remembering things. And preventing memory loss can help seniors from a serious diagnosis, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. There is no time than the present when it comes to preventing memory loss. Here are seven tips that can help seniors can sharpen their memory while they still have can.
1. Staying physically active on a daily basis
When you exercise your body, you are also exercising your mind. Physical exercises will increase blood flow throughout the whole body, which helps keeps your brain working better and stronger, and staying sharp as you go through your day. This also helps increase good circulation in the bloodstream. The sad thing is that not enough people, especially the elderly, get enough physical exercise. As seniors age, they tend to physically slow down, which is common. But that does not mean seniors should. It has been recommended that seniors should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activities, according to the Center of Disease Control. For those who can’t do a full workout in one session, then getting in a few 10-minute walks can also make a huge difference in your health and keep your brain functioning well. Staying fit also relieves stress and improves your mood. Having a positive outlook about doing a physical workout will benefit both your body and memory as well.
2. Staying mentally active
Keeping your mind sharp will also help your memory as you get older. Simple things like doing crossword puzzles, board games, and even playing an instrument can increase brain function while also stimulating your brain cells. Seniors who stay mentally active will also keep their memory longer and may have a less chance of being diagnosed of certain illnesses, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Other mental exercises may include taking an alternate route home when driving. This helps increase critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Unlike the Octopus, we only have one brain, so it is imperative that we use it well daily. Some other exercises that help seniors stay mentally active is reading, writing, and playing an instrument. For a better list of mind games, search here.
3. Getting organized
Staying organized is sometimes a challenge for some. But the more you keep your home in order, not only will it be less cluttered, it can help prevent you from forgetting where important things are. For Seniors, they should keep things in the same place all the time. For example, keeping your keys near the front door at all times prevents you from losing them. Keep a notebook of important numbers or jot down tasks on a sticky note and stick it to the refridgerator. Especially for those things that need to be done regularly. Keep a calender or daily planner and stick with it. This will help you stay organized and also prevent you from being tardy to any appointments or other special events throughout the week. Some people can multitask well, but for seniors, it is sometimes hard to remember more than 2-3 things at once. Limit yourself to one task at a time. This will help you stay focus and prevent you from forgetting a step in the process.
4. Getting enough sleep
Some people may have a hard time sleeping as they get older in age. However, not getting enough rest can also be damaging to your brain. Making sure you get plenty of rest and a good night’s sleep provides many benefits to your body as well as your mind. While you sleep, your brain works to recall important memories that you need to remember each day. Most adults do not always get the appropriate amount of sleep, and this can affect their memory when they are older. Seniors should strive to receive between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you can’t, then taking in a short nap, even for a half hour in the afternoon can also help.
5. Socialize regularly
Many seniors or older adults sometimes live alone. However, that doesn’t mean that they should not be socially active. The benefits of being around others, even if it just your family, can help ward off depression and prevent memory loss. If you have no family near, then surround yourself with close friends or others that can provide social interaction and help boost your self-esteem, self-worth, and confidence. Seniors should look for social events, special gatherings, or other senior-related opportunities to gather around others and keep them mentally challenged as well. Many seniors find that volunteering at their local soup kitchen or food pantry can help them stay socially active and builds lasting friendships. Doing so, can also give seniors a sense of purpose. Check at your local Chamber of Commerce or city hall for organizations that you can join and become a member at, for not only your benefit, but for those you may touch. Older adults that get involved in events, turn out to feel valued and much needed as well. It is also common for seniors to get a pet as a companion. Many times this could help them with staying not only socially engaged, but can help with any memory loss that has occurred already.
6. Having a healthy diet plan
Staying fit and eating well is not only good for your body, but all your organs, including your brain. According to the NIA, having a healthy meal plan can make a big difference to your aging body, as well as your mind. Your brain needs the right amount of daily fruits and vegetables to keep your mind mentally active. Choosing whole grains and low-fat protein foods will increase brain function. Good protein sources include fish, beans, and skinless poultry. Taking Omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid are also good for improving memory. Seniors should stay away from drinking alcohol, however, having a small glass of red wine occasionally is said to be good for the heart. Yet, too much may cause confusion and memory loss over time. Since many seniors do not get enough of their daily nutrients, it is recommended that they take supplements to meet the right dosage of vitamins and minerals every day. Taking vitamins such as B, C, and D3 are also a good start to fight against memory loss.
7. Managing chronic conditions
One more tip to help combat memory loss is to be up to date with your doctor on the right treatment plan for any chronic illnesses you may have. These may include, but not limited to, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and if you have any hearing loss. Sometimes depression, which often is a chronic condition, can be a factor to memory loss. The better seniors can take care of yourself, the more healthy their body and mind will continue to be as they enter the last decades of their life. Seniors should also review their medications regularly with their doctor to see if any need to be changed or if any of their meds may cause side affects, such as memory loss.
Although the tips mentioned above are most common to prevent memory loss, there can be a few other ways to help combat memory loss. The National Institute on Aging, says that aging can reduce a persons ability to concentrate, focus, and pay attention to detail over time. In fact, the brain controls many aspects of thinking. This includes remembering, planning , organizing, and making decisions. Many times it may start out small, like opening the fridge and forgetting why you did or what you were looking for. Getting distracted is also common for seniors as they get older. However, when you exercise your memory, there will be less chances of having these little glimpses of forgetfulness.
Many times, memory loss may not always be related to any underlying condition. Sometimes memory loss may be caused by other common causes that are affecting the body all at the same time. Here is a possible list of other causes to memory loss:
Stress- A little stress can be a good thing, it can motivate you to keep going or doing something to keep your focus. But more often it can actually do more harm than good. According to some research, stress can also inhibit the way some seniors or older aldults form and retrieve their memories. It may also affect how your memory works throughout the day.
Fatigue- when your body is sleep deprived, it can be a sign of fatigue, which can cause your memory to suffer. Having short-term memory loss is often a signof being fatiged and may even cause brain damage to some older adults.
Medicine side effects-This should not be surprising. Almost any type of drug or prescription medicine will list some form of memory loss(often listed as temporary) as a side affect to taking the medication. However, it tends to turn out to be more permanent, the longer you are on them.
Excess use of alcohol and tobacco- According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, although complete memory loss is rare when drinking, however, short-term memory loss and blackouts are common among people who drink regularly.
Lack of sleep- also known as Insomnia, this common condition will slowly affect your memory over time.
Other Ways to prevent Memory Loss for Seniors
One common way that helps is rehearsing what you learn, especially things that you just learned for the first time. Memorizing important phone numbers, grocery items that you routinely buy, and practice counting can help a senior with memory loss. Seniors can also use visual-image association to help with memory issues that may be prevalent in their every day lives. Sometimes seniors may not be aware of the memory loss at first. Caregivers or Children of parents that have started to lose their memory should notice these things and encourage them to find help early.
Another way is by starting a new hobby or fun activity that you haven’t done before. An example is creating pottery items by taking a chance with a pottery wheel for beginners. Seniors can find it relaxing and fun all at the same time. The best part is, you don’t have to be an expert to do it. Other hobbies may be creating shadow boxes or gardening in the front yard. Each of these activities will help seniors increase the neuroplasticity of the brain while stimulating their brain cells.
When is it time to seek help for memory loss
For seniors who are concerned or worried about memory loss, talking to your doctor is recommended. This is especially true for those who are already experiencing memory loss that is affecting your ability to d0 every day tasks. The one thing you don’t want to happen is for your memory to get worse. Your doctor will more than likely perform a physical exam, as well as check for memory loss and other skills that seem to be affecting your memory. Treatment will vary by person to person. However, there are several treatment plans that your doctor can do to help prevent memory loss.
Whether you are in your 60’s, 70’s, or well into your 80’s, there is much to still do while enjoying your retirement. Keeping your brain sharp and active is the best way to prevent many conditions that affect older adults. So, take advantage of the time you have and keep learning. Your mind is too precious to waste.