Keep Your Memory Sharp!
“Now, what did I come into this room
to get? What is that word that I am
trying to think of? Oh, no! I have double-booked a meeting for this
We all experience trouble remembering
things from time to time. There are a number of factors
that can contribute to this problem, such as medication, aging, and a hectic
lifestyle. But there ARE things you can
do to help sharpen and protect your memory.
First and foremost is to live a
healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy diet, with lots of fruits and
vegetables. I can’t stress enough how
important it is to HYDRATE YOURSELF! You need to drink at least half your body
weight in ounces of water every day.
Don’t drink soda (see Eric’s good article about how bad soda is for
you!) Get exercise on a daily basis, and
get plenty of sleep. If your body
doesn’t go through a normal sleep cycle, your brain doesn’t function as it
should. Minimize your need for
medications. A healthful lifestyle may
lower your need for certain drugs. For
instance, weight loss can lead to a decrease in blood sugar and high blood
Stay mentally active and exercise
your brain. Do crosswords and sudoku. Take a different route when driving. Take a class.
Learn to play a musical instrument.
Read a different type of book or section of the newspaper than you
normally would. Socialize regularly! Social
interaction helps to ward off depression and stress, both of which can
contribute to memory loss. Volunteer at
your church, go out to events or meals with friends.
Organize your home and your life.
You are much more likely to forget things if you are in a cluttered
environment and you don’t know where anything is, so clean out those junk
drawers and file those important papers!
Keep a calendar—whether electronic or on paper. I am a big fan of making lists. Some people benefit from just having a large
planner calendar on the wall. Set aside
particular places for things like wallet, keys, and mobile phone, and always
put them in that familiar place!
Focus and try to minimize
multi-tasking. Limit distractions and don’t try to
do too many things at once. You are much
more likely to remember something if you focus on the information, and then
repeat it back to yourself or write it down.
Try to have conversations in quiet places so that you can concentrate on
what the other person is saying.
Take a break, breathe deeply and try to relax. Make it a part of your routine to choose
activities that calm you and make time for relaxation. See my
previous article on meditation. I
have found this to be very helpful in my own personal life. And don’t underestimate the power of prayer!
Stop smoking. Smoke robs your brain cells of oxygen. Smokers
have twice the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease or dementia than those who
have never smoked. But it’s never too
late to quit. You can still reduce your
risk for memory loss.
Protect your head while
exercising. Those who experience head trauma or
concussion have an increased risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s
disease. Wear a helmet when riding your
bike, playing football, etc.
Manage chronic conditions like
diabetes and heart disease. Take your medicines properly and
adhere to your doctor’s advice, and these conditions will be less likely to
interfere with mental functioning.
When should I seek help for memory
loss? If you or a family member or friend notices that your
memory loss interferes with your ability to complete your usual daily
activities, or if you are worried about your mental functioning, then it is
time to see your doctor.
And, when you have a problem
remembering something that you know, like that name of your high school English
teacher or the street that your grandmother lived on once upon a time
(tip-of-the-tongue syndrome), wait a few minutes.
Your brain is trying to find it, and you’ll make it easier if you
concentrate on something else and go back to it later!
Blessings to You,