According to Richard C. Mohs, vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, “In many cases, an older person's brain may be less effective not because of a structural or organic problem but simply as a result of lack of use.” That’s great for those who are concerned about reduced memory function as they age. If you want to use it instead of lose it, here are our recommended steps towards a fitter memory:
- Dial back distractions. Studies show that “as we get older, our ability to filter out distracting influences actually decreases, making it all the more important to concentrate on the task at hand.” It can take a lot of effort to break the multi-tasking habit after years of cramming so much work into busy days and using electronic devices, but it’s well worth it.
- Clear up clutter. Not only do you need to reduce mental distractions, it’s important to get rid of environmental ones as well. It will reduce your stress level and make it easier to remember where things are and what you need to be doing if everything is organized. Pick up office products to help you keep your paperwork tidy, create a day planner to know what tasks lie ahead, and spend some time each day tidying up small messes. Anything you can do to simplify will keep your memory clearer as well.
- Emphasize exercise and nutrition. By treating your body right, you’re helping it support your mind. After years of diet habits dictated by a tight schedule or what was near work or your children’s activities, it’s time to form new ones. Eating right and getting in daily physical activity can reduce other health conditions, offers an opportunity to socialize, reduces stress, and can mean learning a fun new skill like cooking or tennis, baking or biking.
- Love learning. Learning is one of the things that helps your mind grow when you’re younger, and that doesn’t change with age. Giving your mind new things to process and store helps keep those skills sharp, just like continuing to work your muscles helps them stay strong. Now is the time to study French like you always wanted to, or maybe take a Tango class. Pick up classic literature you always meant to read, or give yourself over to an interest in music.
- Rev up remembering. Memory isn’t only a matter of ability or health, it’s also a matter of practice. Rev up your ability to remember information by practicing memorization techniques. Pick up new vocabulary words using flash cards or word games. Study famous speeches using memory palaces or acting techniques. Learn a new religious or poetry verse each day. Make remembering routine.
These steps can make a big difference in your memory function, while also improving other areas of your life. Try them today and see the difference it makes it helping you stay on top of day to day life.