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Memory Loss as we age: Tips to keep you sharp! 
April 6, 2022

It is probably no surprise that as we age, we tend to experience bouts of forgetfulness or memory loss. We’ve been there and know that it can be extremely frustrating. Sometimes it can make you even think “Is this the beginning of a major cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s, or Dementia?” The good news is that isn’t always the case. Most often occasional memory loss can stem from the natural aging process and life’s distractions, however there are actions that you can take right now to prevent memory loss and to keep you sharp.

In the book, Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives written by Daniel Levitin, the author references that memory slips happen to people of all ages. He mentions a story about twenty-year-olds in college who sometimes walk into the wrong classroom, forgetting that they needed to be somewhere else. The thing is, the twenty-year-old only has a databank (memory) both short and long term of the things that have happened over the last twenty years. If you are in your early sixties, you can see how much more information you have retained and need to recall..  It is only natural for it to take a few more minutes for you to sift through all that information when trying to remember the name of something, a memory, a process, etc.

Six helpful tips to prevent memory loss:

1.     Change things up a bit -Switching up your routines a little bit, bringing some new habits into your life, and keeping your brain and body exercised is key. It’s never too late to try something new.

2.     Learning and growing – Try new hobbies and challenge yourself to do things that you may or may not know how to do. Reading books is one of the easiest ways to keep learning. Having the time for reading is such a gift during retirement. 

3.     Medications – Try to limit or remove medications from your life, when possible. Almost all prescription medications have a disclaimer that state the medication may cause cognitive decline. Sometimes the problem may not be with just one specific medication, it may be the combination of medications. This is obviously a conversation to have with your doctor.

4.     Exercise – We can’t stress enough how good exercise is for you in so many ways and how great it is for maintaining your memory. Exercise stimulates brain health and supply of brain cells. You can do certain things in your life now to increase the production of new brain cells. It’s imperative to get out and exercise.

5.     Mindfulness– This is a big favorite practice of ours. Meditate as much as you can. It has a tremendous impact on your brain! You will experience the benefits of settling down for pure relaxation and renewal. You will be able to stop going down rabbit holes of overthinking and feeling stress. It’s a must do to re-charge your mind and body.

6.     Sleep– We have talked about this quite a bit on YouTube and Facebook Lives. There are different kinds of rest and sleep, each are important. The quantity and the quality of sleep truly help with your cognition and memory. If you do tips 1-5 regularly, you may find yourself able to sleep better.  If you are not getting the sleep you need, you may want to reach out to you doctor for a consultation. 

Over the years, we have also used a few additional tools to help us improve our memory or strategies that have helped us along the way. They can be as simple as always putting items away in the exact same place or using an app like Evernote to share a grocery list with your partner. We also have learned that dehydration is not only bad for the body, but also equally harmful to the mind. Sometimes we can forget to drink enough fluids each day. Staying hydrated is key to keeping sharp.

How do you know when your memory loss is a bigger issue? An article in the Harvard Business Review about memory loss shared helpful information and referenced that if you forget where your keys are, that’s okay, however if you forget how to drive or call something by its wrong name, it might be a problem and needs to be addressed with your doctor.

You can view our YouTube video on this topic here.