I remember the first time I couldn’t find my car in the parking lot of my local grocery store. It was both annoying and unsettling. I spent what seemed like an eternity searching each row until it occurred to me – I walked! No wonder hitting the alarm on the fob didn’t elicit the usual lights and horn reaction.
That evening I made it a point to find out if at 55 years old, I should be concerned about my “brain blip.” What I learned was that as we age, it’s natural and normal to have memory lapses. And it’s widely believed these memory lapses begin as young as your early 40’s.
According to Ronald Petersen, M.D., director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, occasional forgetfulness is expected and fortunately, not a sign of Alzheimer’s. And here’s some more good news, there are things you can do to preempt memory loss and improve your memory naturally.
How Memory Works
The act of remembering something as simple as someone’s name involves remarkable mental gymnastics. Your eyes communicate information to your brain’s visual processing center that passes it on to the brain’s area that recognizes faces.
From there, it travels to your brain’s memory processing center, which looks for associations link, do I know this person from high school? Is she a parent from the PTA? The information is then off to the brain’s language area that puts a name to the face and sends it to your mouth. When you consider all these connections happening in milliseconds, it’s a wonder we remember as much as we do!
Warning Signs That It’s Time to Act
Now, “senior moments” may be just another annoying sign that the years are stacking up, but these lapses get more and more alarming the older we get.
Below is a quick checklist to determine if it’s time to act on your memory lapses:
- You regularly forget what day it is or appointments
- You ask for details about an event more than once
- You forget how to use the universal remote or microwave settings
- You regularly misplace your reading glasses or keys
- You can’t find the right words during a conversation
What You Can Do to Improve Your Memory
Your lifestyle choices have a significant impact on your memory. By eating healthy foods, getting plenty of sleep, daily exercise, and limiting alcohol, you’ll experience a natural memory boost.
Decades of research shows there are several additional strategies you can use to protect and sharpen your memory. Here are a few you might try.
1. Use Your Brain
Mental activates are processes that help maintain your brain cells and stimulates communication. Join a book club, play bridge, write your autobiography, regularly complete jigsaw or crossword puzzles, take a language or design class. If you have a mentally challenging job, volunteer for a project that involves a different skill set.
2. Repeat What You Need To Remember
Repeat out loud or make a mental note of what you need to remember, which reinforces the memory connection. For instance, when you park your car at the grocery store, don’t just park and walk away. Pay special attention to the physical surroundings. Repeat out loud the section if it is marked. If you place your keys somewhere, tell yourself out loud the place you put them.
3. Use Your Sense of Smell
Pairing something with a scent helps your brain retain the memory. Brain imaging shows that the brain’s central odor-processing region, the piriform cortex, becomes active when people see objects initially paired with odors, even when the smell is not present. Next time you park your car, take a deep breath, and note the smell surrounding you.
4. Space Things Out
Repetition works best when it’s timed out. Instead of repeating things many times in short spurts, as if you were cramming for a test, restudy what you need to know after more extended periods of time. Try once an hour, then every few hours, then once a day. Spacing out information is specifically valuable when you need to master complicated information like new work assignments.
5. Brain Health Supplements
Supplements that contain neuro-nutrients formulated to support brain health have been shown to help improve your memory, focus, and ability to learn.
Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Brain contains 41 researched and proven ingredients, including Huperzine A, Bacopa Extract, DHA, Phosphatidylserine, and L-Tyrosine, which help boost cell membrane structure, improve blood flow, and fight free radicals. A daily dose fully supports your brain health and promotes optimal cognitive function to help keep your memories intact, helps you think smarter, and boosts your mental energy too.
Sources: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ways-to-improve-memory https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/7-ways-to-keep-your-memory-sharp-at-any-age https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2016/senior-moment-memory-lapse.html