Everyone has a “senior moment” now and then. Perhaps you went into the kitchen for no apparent reason, or you couldn’t recall a familiar name during a conversation. Memory lapses can happen at any age, but cognitive decline is rarely caused by ageing alone.
When older people experience significant memory loss, it is usually due to organic disorders, brain injury, or neurological illness, rather than aging.
Some basic good health behaviours have been demonstrated to help prevent cognitive decline and minimise the risk of dementia: staying physically active, getting enough sleep, not smoking, having excellent social relationships, limiting alcohol to one drink per day, eating a Mediterranean-style dietYears of research have shown that memory loss is caused by a combination of factors and other cognitive changes can be frustrating, but the good news is that you can learn how to keep your mind active.
We can employ a variety of strategies to help us maintain our cognitive fitness.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Continue to educate yourself.
In old age, a higher level of education is linked to better mental functioning. Experts believe that advanced education can help people maintain their memories by instilling the habit of being mentally active. Mental exercise is thought to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells while also stimulating communication between them. Many people have professions that require mental stimulation. Additional ways to keep your mind sharp include pursuing a hobby, learning a new skill, volunteering, and mentoring.
2. Make full use of your senses.
The more senses you employ when learning anything, the more of your brain is engaged in memory retention. Adults were shown a sequence of emotionally neutral images, each accompanied by a scent. They were not asked to recall what they had witnessed. They were then shown a series of photos without scents and asked to identify which ones they’d seen before. They demonstrated great memory for all odor-paired images, particularly those connected with pleasant odors. According to brain imaging, when people saw things that were originally connected with odours, the piriform cortex, the brain’s main odor-processing region, became active, even though the smells were no longer present and the subjects hadn’t sought to remember them, according to brain imaging.
So, as you journey into the unknown, test all of your senses.
3. Believe in yourself
Myths about ageing may contribute to memory loss. When middle-aged and older students are exposed to negative stereotypes about ageing and memory, they perform worse on memory tasks, while those exposed to positive messages regarding memory preservation in old age perform better. People who believe they have no control over their memory function—possibly because they joke too much about “senior moments”—are less inclined to work on preserving or developing their memory skills, and hence are more likely to experience cognitive loss. You have a better chance of keeping your mind fresh if you believe you can progress and put that idea into practice.
4. Make your brain’s use a top priority.
You’ll be able to concentrate on learning and remembering new and essential things if you don’t have to spend mental energy remembering where you left your keys or the time of your granddaughter’s birthday party.
To keep everyday information accessible, use smart phone reminders, calendars and planners, maps, grocery lists, file folders, and address books. Make a space for your glasses, pocketbook, keys, and other frequently used objects.
5. Say what you want to know again.
Repeat anything you’ve just heard, read, or thought out loud, or write it down if you want to remember it. You’ll be reinforcing the memory or connection this way. “So, John, where did you meet Camille?” is a good example of how to use someone’s name when speaking with them. “So, John, where did you meet Camille?”
Give it some breathing room.
6.Space it out
When repetition is appropriately timed, it is most effective as a learning technique. It’s recommended not to prepare for an exam by repeating things many times in a short amount of time. Instead, review the essentials for extended periods of time – once an hour, then every few hours, and finally every day. Spacing out study sessions improves memory and is especially beneficial when learning complex information, such as the specifics of a new job assignment.