Graceful aging cannot happen without making an effort to maintain a functional memory. People of every age experience those bouts of forgetfulness—we’ve all walked into a room and realized that we don’t remember why we did so. However, as we get older, these episodes of momentary memory loss can increase in frequency and severity.
Thankfully, a few remedies exist to combat these “senior moments” from occurring too often. Take a look at these six memory techniques to keep your brain functioning at its best:
Be a Life-Long Learner
Experts agree that staying mentally active can help fight memory loss. Even if you have a job that is mentally stimulating, learning a new skill or trying a new hobby can get you out of your comfort zone and help to stimulate different parts of your brain. If you work with your hands, try spending time reading or solving mental puzzles. For the more intellectually inclined among us, taking up woodworking or gardening can exercise the part of the brain that supports motor function. It’s all about doing something that will challenge your abilities, so don’t be afraid to choose something that you thought you would never do.
Self-perception affects how we function, so if we truly believe that getting older means losing our ability to remember, then our memory will actually begin to suffer. People who stay positive often work harder to maintain and improve themselves, thus making them more inclined to practice memory exercises.
Use Sensory Cues
When you’re trying to remember something, how do you do it? If you want it to really stick with you, try remembering it through sensory cues. In one study, researchers showed adults two sets of images, one accompanied by an odor and one on its own. As you can probably guess, the images accompanied by an odor were easier for the subjects to recall.
Try a Memory Cleanse
When you have fewer things to remember, you are more likely to remember what you need to remember. Taking steps to minimize the amount of information you need to recall can help your memory perform better. Purging your brain of things that can be remembered in other ways will help in this regard. Use calendars and datebooks for important dates. If you have items that you regularly lose, designate a place to return them to when you are done using them.
Rest and Return
Spacing out the task of remembering complex information can help improve your ability to recall it. In fact, this simple fact is the reason that “cramming” for an exam doesn’t work as well as studying the material a little at a time over the weeks preceding the test. Even when you have a short amount of time to memorize something, taking a few minutes after going over the information and then returning to the task can more firmly plant it in your memory.
Mnemonic devices may be as old as the study of memory itself, but the technique still exists because it works. One such technique is the use of acronyms to compress information so it takes up less space in your head. A recent campaign by the Stroke Association uses the mnemonic FAST to help people remember the signs of a stroke: the acronym letters stand for facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, and time. The final letter means that time is of the essence when any of the above symptoms are present.
We hope these tips will help you improve your memory and keep you feeling young.