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Improving memory as we get older

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It’s natural that many of us may experience a decline in our ability to remember things over time. To look after our loved ones and ourselves in later life, there are various ways we can keep the mind exercised and improve overall capacity for memory.

Certain activities can greatly improve cognitive skills, while also keeping you entertained and having fun. Incorporating these into your daily routine help to make it easier for you and your loved ones to stay mentally active in simple but wholly effective ways.

Repetition

Remembering an important piece of information becomes easier if you repeat it to yourself a few times. This action works like a constant reminder, allowing your brain to latch onto the information by thinking of it with greater frequency.

If you need to pick up a handful of things from the shops, for instance, try repeating the names of those items to yourself a few times during the journey. It can even help to visualise objects as you think of them, as it’s more effective for us to memorise images than words and phrases.

Brain training games

There are lots of small mental activities you can do to keep your mind active, whether alone or with others. Puzzles like word-searches, Sudoku and jigsaws are great for solo players, while card games allow several people to stay focused on a shared experience and collectively remember the game’s rules.

Activities can also be carried out on a computer or tablet, as plenty of brain training games and interactive puzzles are available. These can often provide an extra layer of engagement and even help with aspects like quickly keeping score for you.

Nostalgia

Fondly reminiscing about past events can help to jog your memory and improve your ability to recall things. Try going through old photo albums or home videos with family members to share in some happy memories of days gone by.

Music is also a useful and powerful tool for memory recall as it often stimulates our long-term memory without us even realising it! For many of us, listening to certain songs or pieces of music have the power to take us back to significant points in our lives and remember them fondly.

Hobbies and interests

You may already have various hobbies or simply be interested in starting something new. However you enjoy passing the time, progressing with activities can keep a keen mind working well. Learning new skills and practicing older ones helps to improve various cognitive and neurological functions.

Furthermore, memory can begin to worsen if someone lacks regular social interaction, so try carrying out hobbies as part of a group. This is also good for meeting new people and strengthening connections by bonding over common interests.

Association with other knowledge

When trying to remember some new information, boost your brain power by relating it to something you’re already familiar with. For example, if you want to remember a new person’s name, you could create a mental association with someone you already know or a popular figure with the same name.

Linking new and existing memories in this way strengthens the connections in your synapses. Forming relationships between separate thoughts in your mind increases the likelihood of being able to recall them more easily and quickly.

Food and drink

Your diet can also benefit how your brain functions, especially when you include foods rich in Omega-3. Oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, as well as broccoli, spinach and various seeds are packed with Omega-3, which is linked to a reduction in mental decline.

Green tea is also filled with anti-oxidants that can protect the body’s cells – including brain cells – from damage and deterioration. While these dietary tips don’t specifically improve memory, they do work to combat the effects of ageing on the brain, helping to keep it more active for longer.

A good night’s sleep

Getting the right amount of daily rest and having a steady sleeping pattern can contribute greatly to your cognitive health. As you get tired, your brain becomes less reactive, and prolonged tiredness on a regular basis can cause certain functions slow down.

REM sleep is when your brain processes the events of the previous day, committing things to your long-term memory. Make sure you go to bed around the same time each night to get the most out of your resting time, ultimately improving both your mental and physical health.