Top 10 Ways to Prevent Memory Loss
By Nina Bourne / LearnU
If you’re anything like me, you frequently forget where you put your keys, what you did with your cell phone and can’t seem to find your glasses despite the fact that you’re wearing them. We’ve all had days when we suffer from CRC (can’t remember crap!) and know the frustration that comes with it.
Hopefully your days of losing stuff and forgetting dates will be behind you after we let you in on 10 of our favorite and super simple exercises to prevent memory loss. You might want to take some notes just in case you forget an exercise or two before your brain has a chance to take advantage of all the hard work your about to do.
The human memory is a complex creature that is comprised of three stages. Each stage of memory is super important and depends on the other to work efficiently and keep your memories intact.
Your sensory memory is lightning fast and lasts only for a second (literally). Your brain takes control of these micro memories by filing them away for later or giving them the boot right out of your brain.
The short-term memory isn’t quite as fickle as your sensory memory. Your short-term memory hangs onto all of the memories it can snag from your sensory memory before it kicks them out of your brain for good.
Lastly, we have your long-term memory which acts as your brain’s filing cabinet. There’s no limit to the drawer space available here and there’s no expiration date on your memories either unlike with your sensory and short-term memories. You’re memories are safe here as long as you take care of your brain and body to prevent as much memory loss as possible.
How to Prevent Memory Loss with 10 Simple Exercises
1. Keep Your Brain Active
Think of your brain as a muscle and just like a muscle in any other part of your body, it needs to be exercised to stay healthy or it will become weak. Luckily, it‘s not too difficult to give your brain the work out it needs. Conducting mental workout sessions can be easy, quick and don’t require you to take a shower afterwards like regular workouts do.
Brain games are always a great way to keep your brain active and keep memory loss at bay. You can flex your memory muscle by doing a little Sudoku, some crossword puzzles or play a brain bending game of Mahjong. You can really kick your brain workout to the next level with a challenging game of chess that will not only keep your memory intact but also help boost you IQ.
You can skip the brain games if you’re not a fan. Reading is a fantastic way to keep your brain active and always learning, so grab a good book, pick up a magazine or read the news online to keep your brain firing on all cylinders. You can also write if you start to feel your memory slip. Keep a journal, write an essay, work up some poetry or keep in touch with loved ones via email. Any of these writing activities will do your brain some good.
2. Brain Healthy Diet
Do your brain and memory a favor by filling your body with lots of healthy foods that will help halt memory loss. You can fuel your memory with brain boosting foods like fruits (the more colorful the better), veggies (the greener the better), fatty fish, nuts and healthy oils like olive and coconut oil.
All of these foods are rich in the important vitamins and nutrients your brain needs to function at its best and maintain a healthy memory. Studies have even shown that those following diets rich in brain healthy foods are almost 20% less likely to suffer from memory loss. If that’s not a reason to munch on almonds and salmon, I don’t know what is.
Don’t limit your diet to just foods to help your memory, though. Also add memory increasing, brain power boosting and body beneficial herbs to your dietary repertoire. There are many herbs that can be ingested in their natural leafy as well as in tea and supplement form. Some herbs are even turned into essential oils that can then be applied topically, ingested in gel pill form or used for aromatherapy.
3. Avoid Stress
Trying to avoid stress can seem like a full time job and nearly impossible for some of us. However, it’s super important to try to limit your stress as much as possible for your brain, memory and overall health. R. Scott Turner, MD PhD, director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center, says “Being under stress is very bad for your brain. High levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, make it harder to pull out information from your brain’s memory.”
There may not be a way to completely remove stress from your life all together, but there are some measures you can take to reduce the negative impact it has on your brain and body. Give yourself a reprieve from stress by meditation, stretching, doing some yoga or any other activity you find relaxing.
4. Don’t Smoke
Put down the cigarettes, cigars and anything else you’re smoking because smoking is bad business for your brain and memory. Think of it this way: smoking has been proven to be damaging to your lungs, which decreases the way your lungs function and the amount of oxygen getting to your brain. Your brain needs that rich oxygen to keep the memory train chugging along.
Smoking also directly impacts the blood vessels in your brain as it constricts them. The constriction of these blood vessel are said to harm the brain by depriving the brain of much needed oxygen and is thought to cause damage to memory boosting neurons.
There have been studies conducted on smokers with results showing a distinct effect on their ability to remember the names and faces of people compared to those who do not smoke. So, the verdict is in and it’s telling you to toss your smokes in the trash for the health of your brain, body and memory.
Keep memory loss at bay by channeling your inner social butterfly and staying connected to people. The folks over at the Harvard School of Public Health have found that those with a healthy, active social life are less likely to experience memory loss when compared to people who are less social. It’s also been proven that there are lower mortality rates among those engaging in healthy social lives.
Dr. Turner said, “The more social connections someone has, the better they are at preserving mental function and memory.” More social people are often found to be less depressed than their socially isolated counterparts. This is yet another reason to get out and mingle since depression itself is known to cause memory loss and depression.
Secure your short term memory by getting organized at home, work and school. You will be far less likely to forget things if you have things under control as you cut down on the clutter and disorganization. After all, it’s much easier to remember where things are, where you’re supposed to be or what you’re supposed to be doing if everything is in its place.
Getting organized may seem like a daunting task at first, but once you get the organization ball rolling it will become a much easier hill to climb. Start getting organized in simple ways like cleaning your junk draw, clearing off your desk and by writing important dates on a dry erase calendar. It won’t be long for your memory to respond to these positive changes.
Don’t let your two left keep you from going out to cut a rug, shake what your Mama gave you or demonstrating you mad Macarena skills. Get out there and dance your little heart out. Dancing is not only an excellent way to exercise, but it is also a great way to combat memory loss and builds new memory connections.
Dancing challenges both your physical and working memory. These two parts of your memory must then try to work together in an attempt to remember the dances steps in the proper order and how to actually perform them. This may sound like a piece of cake, but it’s definitely a bit of a challenge even if you weren’t blessed with the coordination of a drunken elf like some of us.
8. Develop a Skill
Challenge yourself and prevent memory loss by learning a new skill. You can try to master anything you’d like as long as it’s not something you’ve already mastered. Your brain will develop new neural pathways thanks to all the hard work and discipline you’re subjecting it to.
You can take up learning how to play a new instrument as that is an excellent way to challenge both your physical and working memory. If you’re not musically inclined maybe you can pick up a new hobby like painting, knitting or sculpture as a means of developing a new memory boosting skill. Learning to play a new sport is also a great way to develop a new skill and prevent memory loss.
9. Check Your Health
Never underestimate the power your overall health can have on your body and your memory. Chronic illnesses, mental health and even some medications you take can have an impact on your ability to create new memories and the loss of old ones. Be sure to check in with your doctor regularly to ensure that you’ve got a clean bill of health to help avoid any damage to your memory bank.
There are many known health conditions that may be harmful to your memory, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, depression, high cholesterol, vitamin deficiencies and autoimmune diseases. These conditions can be helped when treated by the proper doctor, which will then help you to prevent additional memory loss and any further strain on your body.
It turns out that laughter really is the best medicine, at least to prevent memory loss that is. A good laugh is said to open up your mind thanks to the many areas of your brain that are activated in the process. As your brain essentially lights up with activity, it is being challenged with new pathways for your thoughts to travel down, an increase in creativity and an increase in learning.
Who knew that a good case of the giggles could be so great for your brain? “Learning ability and delayed recall become more challenging as we age,” said Dr. Gurinder S. Bains, “Begin by laughing more daily. It will improve your quality of life,” Dr. Bains continued. Sounds like a good enough reason to binge watch Family Guy to us! We can’t argue with what the doctor orders, right?