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Minding Your Memory: A Few Tips For Keeping Memory Sharp

Oct 04, 2017 02:00PM ● Published by Caley Breese

By Caley Breese

As we age, we try to stay in the best shape we can, whether it’s physically or mentally. While it’s imperative to keep our bodies strong with a good diet and a solid exercise regimen, it’s also important to keep our mind strong so as we get older, our memory stays as sharp as possible.

There’s no doubt that we’ve all had those “senior moments.” But what does that really mean? If you’ve ever forgotten where you placed your car keys or there was a time where you couldn’t find your sunglasses even though they were right on top of your head, it’s usually just a common case of forgetfulness or not paying attention, and that’s a normal part of the aging process.

However, the older we get, the greater the chance for our memory loss to become more profound. The good news is there are are many different things we can do to help protect it.



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Try Yoga!

It will not only help your body become stronger, but it will allow you to de-stress and relax. Recommended by the National Institute on Aging, aim to exercise at least 150 minutes per week—or 30 minutes five times a week.

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Overall Health

Nutrition: Part of staying healthy is feeding the body and the mind with well-balanced, nutritious foods. This is where brain foods come into play, such as blueberries, wild salmon, seeds, and nuts (such as walnuts, Brazil nuts, or almonds), avocados, and even dark chocolate (yes—chocolate!) According to WebMD, blueberries promote brain health by protecting it from oxidative stress, which has been linked to brain-related conditions, such as certain types of dementias. In nuts and seeds, it’s the vitamin E that boosts cognitive function for the long-term.

Rest: It’s also very important to receive an adequate amount of sleep every night, typically between six and eight hours. When you don’t receive enough sleep, the next day you may become even more forgetful. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, someone who is sleep-deprived cannot learn effectively because they can’t focus attentively. Additionally, sleep plays a part in the consolidation function of memory, which is needed when learning new information.

Exercise: Maintaining an active lifestyle is important for brain health and memory retention. Exercising routinely as part of an active lifestyle has advantages such as reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, and promoting sleep. It is also especially for those people who have a family history of Alzheimer’s.

While exercise is great for our overall wellbeing, it also has several benefits for memory.

When we exercise, it helps control our blood pressure. As low blood pressure is also good for heart health, it can also help with memory because, according to a study published by the American Academy of Neurology, when an individual has high blood pressure, it can damage blood vessels and restrict the flow of blood to the brain, affecting the part of the brain that controls memories. In similar research published by the Mayo Clinic, hypertension can also cause dementia because of the narrowing of blood vessels and restriction of blood flow to the brain.



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Best Phone Number Retention Trick:

Write it down several times on paper BEFORE entering it into your smartphone and clicking save. Write it down in numeric form AND spell it out—as in, “FOUR-ONE-ZERO, FIVE-FIVE-FIVE, EIGHT-ONE-THREE-TWO.” —Taking a few undistracted minutes to write the number several times on paper first may save you time and a lot of aggravation later.

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Cognitive Training

Recently there has been much debate about the effectiveness of the more popular online and app-based “brain-training” games like Lumosity, that are being marketed to those fearful of losing their memory, or at the very least, their edge. However, most of the data collected on these specific brain-training exercises so far, questions whether the proposed benefits of better memory retention and more brain agility are substantiated.

What is being recommended since then to keep cognition sharp is a more basic, but sound approach. One of the best ways to sharpen cognitive skills is by learning something new every day, whether it’s a skill, hobby, or just general information about a specific subject. According to the National Institute of Aging, one study found that older adults who learned a new skill or hobby had more memory improvement compared to those who did activities that require less cognitive use. Other great activities to stay cognitively sharp are trying techniques to remember phone numbers and dates, volunteering, reading (this issue of What’s Up? is a great start!), and maintaining social connections.

It’s important to remember that while we can work hard to keep our minds fit, memory and aging has a lot to do with genes. However, keeping up with good health practices, such as a nutritional diet and good exercise routine, will continue to benefit your well-being as a whole!



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Keeping Memory Sharp—A Few Tips

(from the National Institute on Aging)
Learn a new skill • Exercise and eat well • Get a solid amount of rest • Practice remembering specific numbers and dates • Maintain social relationships or volunteer

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Editor’s Note: We will continue our discussion on memory in our November edition where the focus will be on Alzheimer’s.

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