“Use it or lose it,” is the simple principle that explains how your memory deteriorates over time.
However, many factors, as you go through the ageing process, make everything even more complicated. Your diet, hormones, sleeping habit, lifestyle and other health practices contribute to the progress of your memory problems that’s primarily caused by your ageing brain. But, there are 6 memory-enhancing tips that can help you out!
What Are The Causes of Memory Problems?
There are many biological changes occurring as we age, which results in age-related memory problems. One of these causes is the deterioration of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory formation and retrieval. Another cause of memory problems is the decreasing amount of hormones and proteins that protect and repair the brain cells, as well as those that stimulates neural growth. Decreased blood flow to the brain also results in memory impairment. Likewise, the older we get, the less efficient we absorb nutrients that enhance brain function.
Other causes of memory problems are:
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Thyroid problems
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Sleep deprivation
- Head injury
- Medications including antidepressants, anti-allergy (antihistamines), muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety, post-surgery pain relievers, and tranquilizers
Being forgetful is the most common symptom of memory loss associated with aging. Some women in their 50s find it tolerable while others see it as a horrible experience. It depends on the severity of your memory loss. Mild memory problems are not something that you should worry about much. Besides, anybody may forget something at any point in their life, especially when preoccupied with something more important, such as when you are stressed or in the presence of any distraction. Probably the following statements sound familiar to you:
“Where are my keys?”
“I can’t remember why I went to the kitchen.”
“What did you just say? (after 5 minutes)”
However, if your memory problems bother you or affect your daily living, take the time to visit your doctor because a severe memory problem means there is an underlying medical condition that needs immediate attention.
Moreover, if you are experiencing memory problems, you may integrate several habits into your lifestyle to help sharpen your memory and even reduce the impact of memory problems in the quality of your life. Likewise, be aware of the possible causes of memory problems to determine if you can eliminate them or at least manage them to the least harmful level.
To help you deal with memory problems efficiently, here are six memory-enhancing tips:
6 Memory-Enhancing Tips to Help You Prevent Memory Problems
Biological changes, particularly the deterioration of the brain structure related to aging that affect your brain function is irreversible. However, you can prevent factors that speed up this condition. Likewise, you can modify your lifestyle and use the following effective tips to boost your overall brain function, particularly your memory.
Memory Problems Tip#1 – Boost your brainpower and prevent memory loss through brain exercise.
“Use it or lose it,” means you need mental exercises to keep your memory sharp. Otherwise, you will experience a decline in your mental performance as you age. You may compare this with people who have one-sided body paralysis. You will notice that the paralyzed side of the body has smaller extremities because they aren’t used for physical activities compared to the side of the body that is physically active.
A mental exercise is any activity that challenges your mind. It can be something that involves planning, designing, reading, or learning something new.
Choose a mental exercise that you enjoy doing, as the more pleasure you feel, the more beneficial it is to your brain. You may start with the following exercises:
- Play games that require a lot of thinking and using of strategies like chess, scrabble, crossword, and Sudoku
- Learn new things like recipes, playing musical instruments or a foreign language
- Attend workshops, seminars or courses in an unfamiliar but interesting subject
- Design your backyard garden or try doing some handicraft
Memory Problems Tip#2 – Eat brain-friendly foods.
Make it a habit to eat foods that maintain and boost your brain functions, particularly memory. Include foods in your daily dietary intake that are rich in EPA and DHA, lycopene, B vitamins (B6, B12 and folic acid), zinc, vitamin K and vitamin E. (See the infographics below)
You should also limit your calorie and saturated fat intake, as this increases your risk of developing dementia, concentration impairment and other memory problems. Sources of saturated fat include whole milk, cheese, ice cream, red meat and cream.
Memory Problems Tip#3 – Relieve stress.
Stress is one of the worst nemeses of the brain. Study findings showed that exposure to chronic stress can damage the brain cells, particularly the hippocampus. There are many ways to relieve stress. Ideally, you should indulge in an activity that can relax your body and mind. One of the best stress relievers is meditation.
Here are simple steps for beginners:
Step 1: Sit up straight and keep both feet on the floor.
Step 2: Close your eyes and don’t think any distracting thoughts.
Step 3: Recite a positive mantra like “I love myself.” silently or aloud.
Step 4: Put your hand on your belly and synchronize the mantra with your breathing.
You can meditate for few minutes each day. Other stress relieving techniques are deep breathing exercise, warm compress on your stiff muscles (neck, back muscles), massage therapy, spa, watching funny movies, listening to music, yoga, qigong, regular walking or other forms of mild to moderate physical exercises.
Memory Problems Tip#4 – Get adequate and restful sleep.
At least eight hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep daily is needed to avoid memory problems because the brain forms and stores memories during sleep. These stored memories can be retrieved later when you need them. If you are sleep deprived, you will notice that you have difficulty recalling details. Lack of sleep can also lead to another cause of memory problems, which is the mood disorder depression.
Schedule your bedtime and waking time to ensure you get adequate sleep. Whenever possible, try to go to sleep before midnight. Avoid electronic gadgets in your bedroom so you won’t be tempted to play games, watch a movie or do anything that would keep you awake. Use a dim light or turn lights off, as a dark room increases the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep. For more tips to help you get adequate sleep, click HERE
Memory Problems Tip#5 – Keep everything simple and organized.
It is often difficult to remember when there are many things happening all day. The best way to remember things easily is to:
- Make a list of the things that need to be done.
- Keep an organizer or planner with you. Write down important dates or appointments. You can use your phone as an electronic organizer too. Set your phone alarm clock as a reminder for tasks.
- Use the same spot as storage for the things that you use regularly. You may use the same drawer to keep your keys, watch, purse or wallet and glasses.
- Label your cabinets, drawers, other containers or storage boxes so items can be found easily.
Memory Problems Tip#6 – Socialize with family, friends, workmates or acquaintances.
Socialization is necessary to keep your memory sharp. It can be considered one of the best mental exercises as it challenges your mind and it keeps you mentally active. Research findings revealed that individuals who don’t socialize with friends and family have a higher risk of developing memory problems than those who are socially active. Social interaction is also another way to relieve stress and prevent depression.
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