Memories capture the richness of life. But as we age, our ability to remember can slip, making it more difficult for us to function and enjoy all the charms life has to offer. But memory problems don’t have to plague you in your later years. Below are five helpful tips for maintaining your memory.
Studies have shown that a great way to keep our memory sharp is to engage in new, exciting and challenging activities on a regular basis. You can tackle a crossword puzzle, dive into a thrilling novel, travel to another country or simply take a new path while walking the dog. Embracing variety, change and newness will not just keep your life interesting and fun but also help you preserve your memory and brain function well into your senior years.
Maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet can help you keep your memory robust as you get older. Researches reveals that foods high in saturated fats and LDL (bad) cholesterol can lead to a buildup of plaques in the brain, which can hamper one’s memory over time, and have even been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Great memory-guarding foods are those high in vitamins and low in saturated fats, such as fruits, vegetables and lean meats. The so-called “Mediterranean diet” offers the perfect brain-food tableau: fish, fruits, leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains and moderate amounts of alcohol (particularly red wine).
Staying physically fit can help us stay mentally fit. A regular fitness routine improves blood flow to all parts of the body, especially the brain. But you don’t have to join a strenuous boot camp to strengthen and preserve your memory capacity. The NIH suggests that taking 40-minute walks and doing stretch exercises every day can heighten your memory and your ability to envision and plan for the future. Be sure to consult your physician before taking on any new or unusual workout routines.
Meeting friends for coffee or taking a walk with your grandkids can actually help delay or even prevent memory loss. Time with friends and family will not only promote feelings of well-being and comfort, which reduces memory-eroding stress, but will also inject your life with variety and keep your mind engaged. So go ahead and have that extra cup of tea with your daughter or other round of golf with your buddy. It’s great way to make, and keep, awesome memories.
According to the National Institutes of Health, your brain solidifies your memories during deep sleep, which leads to better recall and improved learning during the day. So, a night of bad sleep often leads to a day of annoying forgetfulness. You can treat poor sleeping habits by allowing yourself time to wind down two hours before bed, keeping your bedroom dark and cool at night, and limiting your exposure to the blue light of smartphones, iPads and computer screens before hitting the sheets. It’s also recommended to end the day with less light and to start the day with more light to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Our memories make life more fulfilling. While we can’t stop the progression of time, we can help prevent memory problems from bringing us down by making small changes in our everyday lives. After all, it’s often the “little things” that make the biggest differences in life—and the best memories.