It's normal to experience a decline in memory capacity as you age. There's no need to be unnecessarily alarmed by looking up a word, for example. Did you know that you can train your brain and work on your cognitive functions on a daily basis?
How memory works
Memory plays a vital role in all your activities, including the development of your personality, memories of the past, and the acquisition of general knowledge.
There are two main types of memory: short-term and long-term memory.
Short-term memory stores a limited amount of information over a short period of time. It can either let this information go later on or relay it to long-term memory. For example, short-term memory can be used to remember a telephone number just before dialing it.
Long-term memory, on the other hand, retains information for a longer period, even up to a lifetime. The capacity of this memory is phenomenal since it is unlimited in terms of both the quantity of information and duration. It is used to retain information, such as how to ride a bike or remembering important events.
Tips and tricks to help preserve your memory
Different strategies can help you to remain independent in everyday life, giving your memory a little boost.
Leaving a notepad and pen in plain sight in your living space allows you to take notes, make a to-do list, or keep things jotted down so you don't forget them. When the information is out of date, simply cross it out. Post-its, whiteboards, chalkboards and calendars are excellent alternatives for taking notes.
Visual associations involve placing certain objects in plain sight, to remind you of a task to be carried out. For example, placing the laundry basket in the living room can remind you that a load of laundry needs to be done. This technique can easily be adapted and personalized to suit individual needs.
Repeating information aloud
Talking out loud has benefits in many areas of daily life. It helps with organization, motivation, self-confidence, stress reduction, concentration and, of course, reminding you of important information.
The importance of healthy lifestyle habits for memory
Adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits helps to maintain and improve cognitive health.
Some many activities and skills stimulate the mind and train the memory. Here are just a few examples:
- Learning a new language
- Learning to play a musical instrument
- Practicing a new sport
- Playing stimulating games (chess, crosswords, puzzles, etc.)
- Visiting an art exhibit or attending a show
At least 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise daily is enough to impact cognitive functions such as memory. You don't have to be an endurance athlete; simple things like walking to the store or taking the stairs instead of the elevator are enough to have a positive effect.
A healthy, varied diet has a major impact on your memory. The key is to make small changes at a time, aiming for healthy foods that contain nutrients that are essential to the proper functioning of cognitive functioning.
Sleep helps to consolidate memory and promotes the elimination of certain brain toxins, which, in turn, can cause Alzheimer's disease. Certain habits may be necessary to create a proper sleep routine, such as going to bed and getting up at set times, engaging in quiet, restful activities in the evening, avoiding all forms of screen-reading before bedtime, and so on.
Social interaction stimulates several brain functions, including memory. The brain works by remembering new people's names, recounting memories, or maintaining conversations from one occasion to the next—all while making new friendships along the way.
Like sleep, relaxation helps to consolidate memory. Taking a break and relaxing preserves and maintains memory. Practicing mindfulness, meditation and yoga are other effective ways of giving your brain a rest. The brain works better when it's rested than when it's in constant use.
When should your consult a healthcare professional
Many different diseases affect memory. The most prevalent is Alzheimer's disease. Although it can sometimes be worrying when looking up a word or name, forgetfulness happens to everyone. However, if you forget how to carry out a routine task such as preparing a meal, getting lost in a familiar place, or putting things away in inappropriate places, it could be a warning sign of illness.
If in doubt, don't hesitate to consult a health professional.
By implementing certain strategies, you can maintain good cognitive health and improve your memory.
Trust your intuition and get your brain working today!
Text written in collaboration with Vie de Grands-Parents