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How to Improve Your Memory at Any Age

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As we age, we all start to notice changes in our ability to remember things. Maybe you can’t remember a familiar word or name in conversation, or you walk into a room and forget why. Memory lapses occur at any age, but as we get older, and memory lapses happen more often, we tend to get more upset when they happen. We often associate memory lapses, no matter how minor, with loss of cognitive function or dementia. That is why you should already be practicing ways to help improve your memory.

Most of the minor memory lapses experienced with age are due to normal changes in the brain. These changes affect memory building and memory retrieval processes and can make it harder to learn new things, or to ignore distractions that interfere with learning and memory. Check out these tips for boosting your memory and sharpening your mind.

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Keep Learning New Things

Continually learning new things is far and away one of the best things you can do to stay sharp and improve your memory. According to Harvard Health Publications, there is a link between higher levels of education and improved memory. Learning new things keeps you mentally active. Mental exercise challenges your brain and activates processes that enhance the health of individual cells while improving communication among them. It promotes neuro-generative activity in the brain that increases the brain’s ability to make new connections and keep existing connections healthy. This doesn’t mean you have to stay in school to pursue advanced degrees, unless that’s your thing. You can take an online course in coding, technology, history, art, or learn a new language just for fun. You can also take a dance class, art class, learn chess, play an instrument, or even financial planning classes through your local community center or adult ed program. Recent research indicates that gardening can help maintain cognitive function, so consider giving it a try.
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Don’t Skimp on Exercise

While a mental workout is vital for brain health, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to move your body. Physical exercise helps keep your brain sharp. Even light exercise can help maintain your memory. That’s just one more reason to make exercise a part of your lifestyle. Choose activities that get your blood pumping, such as power walking, cycling, running, or aerobics classes.
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Get Enough Sleep

There is a huge difference between how much sleep you can get by on and how much you need to function at your best. While the amount may vary,the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night to avoid sleep deprivation. Critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, and memory are all compromised when you don’t get enough sleep. But it’s not just your day-to-day activities that are impacted. Sleep is critical for learning and memory in a fundamental way. Sleep is essential for memory consolidation, such important memory-enhancing activity happens during your deepest stages of sleep. You may have to play around with how much sleep you actually need, but once you have that figured out, keep the same sleep schedule every day. Even on weekends and holidays. Turn off all screens – TV, computer, laptop, phone – an hour prior to before going to sleep. The blue light emitted by these screens suppresses hormones that trigger sleep, such as melatonin. Also, monitor your caffeine intake. Caffeine affects everyone differently, so if you think caffeine is keeping you awake at night, reduce your caffeine consumption.
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Spend Time with Friends

Humans are extremely social and not meant to live, much less thrive, in isolation. Socializing with friends, or even just talking with other people in a friendly way, comes with some serious cognitive benefits. These types of interactions require working memory, self-monitoring, and the ability to suppress internal and external distractions, all skills needed to solve common problems. There are many ways to benefit from the memory-enhancing benefits of socializing. Join a club, take a class, volunteer for a cause you believe in, and socialize with friends on a regular basis. Phone calls count, too.
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Engage All Your Senses

The mind needs a regular workout, and engaging all of your senses keeps your mind and your senses stronger. Sounds and smells are great memory triggers, so when you are looking for a hobby or class, choose one that involves your senses. For example, a cooking class will engage smell, touch, and sight. Pottery or music are also good choices.
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Economize Your Brain Power

Your brain does a lot, taking in thousands of tiny bits of data in. You don’t need to clog your mind up with where you left your keys or the ten things you need to do this week. Put your keys in the same place when you come into the house, make lists, and use calendars to keep routine information easily accessible. Declutter your home and office to reduce stress and minimize distractions.
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Eat for Your Brain

Your brain needs the proper fuel, just like your body does. A diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein not only offers numerous health benefits but can also help improve your memory.
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De-Stress Your Life

We all get a little stressed once in a while, but chronic stress damages brain cells and the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in the retrieval of old memories and the formation of new ones. Research has shown that stress and anxiety are linked to memory loss. Manage your stress by setting realistic expectations, establish a healthy work-life balance, and focus on one task at a time rather than trying to multi-task. Meditation is also a great way to beat stress and boost your memory. Start with just a few minutes a day and increase as you become more proficient.
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Stephany
GR8NESS Writer
Stephany is a GR8NESS Contributing Editor who writes about pet care, CBD, stress, self care, meditation, time management, brain training, and natural remedies with a focus on the science behind it all. She has three dogs, three cats, walks half marathons, and practices yoga and powerlifting. You can often find her training her dogs or experimenting with new flavors in the kitchen.
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