As we age, our memories have a tendency to change. According to Harvard.edu, here are some strategies to keep your memory sharp:
Keep Learning: A higher-level education is associated with better mental functioning in old age. Challenging your brain is believed to activate processes that maintain brain cells. Read, join a book club, play chess or bridge, do puzzles, or write your memoirs. Building and preserving brain connections is an ongoing process.
Use All of Your Senses: The more senses you use in learning something, the more of your brain will be involved in retaining memory. For example, try to guess the ingredients as you taste or smell a new restaurant dish. Give sculpting or ceramics a try, noticing the feel and smell of the materials you are using.
Believe in Yourself: Myths about aging can contribute to a failing memory. People who believe that they are not in control of their memory function are less likely to work at retaining their memory skills. If you believe you can improve and translate that belief into practice, you have a much better chance at keeping your mind sharp!
Economize Your Brain Use: Don’t waste mental energy on trying to remember where you left your keys, phone, or glasses. Reduce clutter and minimize distractions by utilizing organizational systems such as bins, baskets, hooks, calendars, planning boards, etc.
Repeat What You Want to Know: Reinforce your memories by repeating and/or writing down important information. Repeat a new person’s name, tell yourself out loud if you place something in an unusual spot, and ask for information to be repeated.
Space It Out: Research shows that spaced rehearsal improves recall not only in healthy people but also in those with certain memory issues. Quick repetition or “cramming” is not the best learning tool. Try to space out your recall over increasingly extended periods of time.
Make a Mnemonic: This is a creative way to remember lists. RICE = Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. “Every Good Boy Does Fine” = E, G, B, D, F for the lines of a treble clef.