Do you sometimes forget why you walked in to a room or where you last put your keys? It certainly happens to all of us, but there are several things you can do to improve your memory.
First, it is important to focus on improving your brain health. To do this, you have to improve your overall health, meaning your physical, mental and social well-being. For your physical health, make sure to eat a diet full of vitamins and nutrients, exercise regularly and, if you smoke, quit immediately.
For your mental and social well-being, social engagement and intellectual stimulation are a must. Working, volunteering, listening to music, reading, writing, doing some sort of art or learning anything new are all associated with better cognitive function.
Lastly, chronic conditions such as vascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol affect the way your mind functions, so make sure you work with your physician to get any of these conditions under control.
It can be scary when your memory starts to lapse, and as you age, it can become harder for your brain to create a new memory. If you are having trouble remembering daily tasks, talk with your health care provider and try some of these tips:
- Develop habits and routines that are easy to follow.
- Always place your wallet, keys and other important items in the same spot.
- Write a to-do list and check off items as you do them.
- Write down your appointments and other activities in a planner book or calendar. Keep it in an obvious place, such as beside your bed.
- Allow yourself the time to do the things you need to do, and don't feel rushed or let other people rush you.
- Keep a dictionary close by if you have trouble remembering words.
- Play games such as crossword puzzles, board games, or even video games that were created to challenge the mind. This helps keep the nerve cells in the brain active.
- If you live alone, make an effort to visit and talk with friends and family members.
Keeping your brain active and sharp will not only improve your memory but it will help ward off depression, anxiety, and slow down the onset and progression of dementia. For more information, talk with your primary care provider or visit CarilionClinic.org.
Jeremy A. Llavore, M.D., is a Carilion Clinic Family Medicine physician based in Boones Mill, Va. Learn more about where Dr. Llavore went to medical school and where you can find him when he's not caring for patients.