Mental Health

6 Ways to Keep Your Memory Sharp at Any Age

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Posted By Alex Perez - Mental Health Writer, B.A.

30-Second Summary 

  • Memory loss can affect people of all ages, but it tends to occur more as we get older. However, it’s not inevitable, and many stay sharp into their twilight years.
  • There are techniques you can use in your life to make sure your mind stays in good condition. These include eating the best brain foods, exercising regularly, decreasing stress, working out your brain, socializing with others, and sleeping well.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that leads to a decline in memory and cognitive functioning, affecting mood and behavior.
  • To enhance your brain functioning, try the tips to improve memory described in this article. 

Introduction: How to Keep Your Memory Sharp

memory sharp

Many people find that their memories begin to decline as they get older; however, this is not necessarily the case. It is very possible to keep your mind in top condition into your elderly years. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 10.7% of people over the age of 65 develop the symptoms of this degenerative brain condition.

Young people may also suffer from memory lapses and issues with attention. There are quite a few lifestyle techniques that you can use at any age to sharpen your cognition and improve your memory functioning. Let’s explore some of these tips to improve memory.

Ways To Keep Your Memory Sharp At Any Age

memory sharp
  1. Lower Your Stress Levels – According to the Mayo Clinic, “stress, anxiety, or depression can cause forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating, and other problems that disrupt daily activities.” 

Decreasing the amount of stress in your life can have a significant impact on boosting brain health and memory. Methods include practicing yoga, going to therapy, getting massages, and spending time around loved ones.

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that involves focusing on the present moment and experiencing it fully. There is evidence that indicates that this practice can calm your mind and body and enhance memory.

  • Stay Physically Active – Exercising is ideal for promoting brain health, as it gets your circulation going and enhances cerebral blood flow. In addition, it can lead to physical and functional changes in the brain that improves mental performance, memory, thinking, and problem-solving. 

Exercise can help reduce levels of stress and anxiety. An article in Frontiers in Psychology looked at the effects of physical exercise on cognitive functioning, including memory and attention.

  • Follow A Brain-Healthy Diet – Nutrition plays a key role in preserving your brain health and even slowing the progression of cognitive decline. Some of the best brain foods include green, leafy vegetables, like spinach and broccoli, which are rich in brain-boosting nutrients. 

There’s evidence that antioxidant-rich berries and walnuts can promote memory. Fatty fish may decrease levels of the protein that leads to Alzheimer’s disease. According to Health Web Magazine, caffeine is high in antioxidants and can help enhance brain health.

  • Keep Your Brain Active – The brain is like a muscle; it needs exercise to stay in good condition. Pursue activities that keep your mind and your memory in top shape, like learning a new language, reading books, writing, doing puzzles, or whatever it is that is personally meaningful to you. One study found that a purposeful, goal-driven life reduced the risk of developing dementia by 30%. 
  • Socialize – There’s a known connection between social support and general health, as well as cognitive functioning and memory. Socializing is also linked to a lower rate of cognitive decline. According to the Center For Disease Control, loneliness and isolation can increase the risk of developing dementia by 50%. We are social creatures by nature and being around others is an essential part of our well-being and brain health. 
  • Sleep Well – Not getting enough sleep or having inadequate quality sleep can affect your cognition and memory negatively, as well as your mood. It disrupts your mental focus, which can impair your ability to learn. 

In addition, there’s some evidence that we require sleep to consolidate our memories. The act of sleep can strengthen certain neuronal connections which, in turn, store memories. 

To get a decent quality sleep, follow a routine and try to sleep and wake at the same time. Avoid using electronics before you lie down, as it can disrupt your ability to fall asleep. In addition, don’t exercise, eat, or drink caffeine starting 4 hours before you fall asleep.

Alzheimer’s Disease

According to Health Web Magazine, Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease often referred to as dementia. It occurs when there’s a disruption in the functioning of brain proteins, in particular, two called plaques and tangles. This eventually leads to cell death in some areas of your brain, affecting cognition. 

Neuronal loss begins in the memory region of the brain and then spreads to other areas as the disease progresses. The condition begins with memory lapses, leading to disruptions in thinking, reasoning, making judgments and decisions, and eventually performing routine tasks. 

It may also cause significant changes in behavior as well as mental health issues like depression. Alzheimer’s can occur in younger people, but only rarely, and the risk goes up significantly with age. It occurs slightly more often in women, but only because they tend to live for a longer time.

The cause is a combination of genetics, lifestyle, and environmental issues that impact over time. The Mayo Clinic states that there are other risk factors, including poor sleep patterns, air pollution, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, alcoholism, head trauma, mild cognitive impairment, or lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking, or lack of sufficient exercise.

Conclusion: How to Keep Your Memory Sharp

memory sharp

As we age, there may be lapses or slips in memory that occur – worse in some people than others. However, there are some lifestyle methods that you can follow to make sure your brain stays the best that it can be. 

As there’s a strong link between body and mind, follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Use techniques to calm your mind and body which decrease stress, and socialize with family and friends. 

Make sure you get quality sleep and keep your brain in decent shape with puzzles or learning something new. Optimal brain health is a reachable goal for everyone, with a few minor changes in your lifestyle.

Harvard Health: 6 simple steps to keep your mind sharp at any age

Harvard Health: 7 ways to keep your memory sharp at any age

Time Magazine: 5 Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp As You Age

Eat This, Not That: The Best Way To Keep Your Memory Sharp At Any Age, Science Says

CDC: What is Alzheimer’s Disease

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