Nine Small Changes to Improve Your MemoryPosted on: 27 September 2016 by 50connect editorial
Grainne McCarthy, Clinical Lead at Elder shares her nine top tips for improving memory.
With an estimated 850,000 people in the UK suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to do what we can to improve our memory wherever possible – the following nine tips are easy to incorporate into daily life and could make a big difference.
When it comes to improving and maintaining your memory, a healthy diet is essential. There have been studies that found insulin resistance could cause inflammation in the brain, damaging the brain cells in the process. Make sure that you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, cutting down on sugars and unhealthy trans fats. You should also try to add some omega fats to your diet, as it has been found that these fats reduce the amount of plaque in the brain which causes Alzheimer’s disease.
Findings from the Florida-based Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation found that exercising regularly can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and even slow down the development of existing cognitive problems. You should aim to do a mixture of cardio and strength/resistance workouts, trying to achieve 150 minutes of exercise a week. If you are just starting out, swimming and walking are great exercises to start with.
Humans are fundamentally sociable creatures and we flourish when spending time with those who make us feel valued and heard. Studies found that leading an active social life could help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia in later life, so make sure to socialise with your friends as often as possible, setting up weekly dates in your diary. You can also look into expanding your social network, by joining a club, taking up a new skill or sport.
It stands to reason that the more you use your brain, the less likely you are to suffer from memory loss. The best way to get your brain working is by trying to learn something new – be it a new language, a musical instrument or just doing a class in something that you enjoy. You can also try puzzles, brain training apps or straightforward memorisation techniques, like learning the capital cities of different countries.
Try to limit the amount of stress in your life, as it can slow down nerve cell growth and generally put a lot of pressure on the brain. Simple techniques like meditative breathing, doing something you enjoy or even going for a walk can help you feel less stressed and will often give you the necessary perspective to assess the situation properly.
Many scientists agree that one of the key things to do, in order to improve your memory, is to get enough sleep – for an adult, this is between 7-9 hours a night. Sleep is essential for the brain to be able to recharge itself, store memories and prepare to absorb new information the following day.
Do something different
New experiences can do wonders for improving our memory. This doesn’t need to be something extreme like jumping with a parachute – it’s enough to simply cycle into work instead of driving, or taking a new route as you walk home, or going to a different café for lunch and ordering from an unfamiliar menu. Whenever the brain finds itself in a new situation, it assumes that the new information is important and starts to store it automatically, thus exercising your memory.
Listen to music
If you find that there is something that you really want to remember, make sure to recite it to yourself as you listen to your favourite music. Studies have found that it is easier for the brain to remember new information when it’s associated with music. You can mentally replay the song in your mind and the remembered information will resurface automatically.
Many of us are constantly multitasking, in order to fit everything we want into our busy schedules, which can be detrimental to our memory, as you aren’t focusing on any of the tasks properly. Instead, learn to prioritise and deal with one thing at a time. This will ensure that whatever it is that you are doing is properly engrained into your memory, as well as preventing you from feeling stressed.
For more advice visit elder.org
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