10 ways to improve your memory

The strength of your memory is not completely in your control, but taking the steps below will put you in the best position possible!

When we reach our mid-30s, our memories begin to fade and we’ll continue “forgetting” as we age. That’s normal. As we age, we become busier and have more to remember. Here are 10 tips to boost memory:
1) Get organized. Make a list of tasks, or jot things on your calendar or in your daily diary. Don’t put things off; do them as soon as possible so you won’t forget.
2) Take time to remember things. Normal aging changes the brain, making your mind less efficient in processing new information. Slow down and pay full attention. Repeat what you want to remember several times to yourself and you probably won't forget it. Listen carefully during conversations to remember details and people's names.
3) Diet is important too. Fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants - substances that protect and nourish brain cells. Essential fatty acids found in fish and vegetables also protect and maintain proper functioning of the brain. And drink water: dehydration causes fatigue, making it hard to concentrate.
4) Mental exercise stimulates the brain’s nerve cells to produce new dendrites (connections between nerve cells that allow cells to communicate with one another). This helps the brain store and retrieve information, at any age. Challenge yourself with ongoing education, games and sports that require strategy and concentration (like bowling, golf, chess, crosswords, puzzles), start a new hobby, learn a new language, or learn to play a new instrument.
5) Regular, moderate, physical activity increases the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain. Exercise improves cardiovascular health, which improves blood flow to the brain. Those who stay physically fit, also remain mentally fit.
6) Learn to manage stress. Stress and anxiety interfere with concentration, so it's important to have relaxation time. Spend at least 15 minutes daily to breathe deeply and clear your mind. Soak in a hot tub or treat yourself to a massage. Take regular vacations.
7) Think positive. Being happy and having a positive outlook makes you more alert. When you're alert, your senses are more open to receiving information.
8) If you are worried about your memory, get evaluated by your doctor or a specialist. Many factors contribute to memory problems. These include using certain medications, poor vision and hearing, vitamin deficiencies, fatigue, depression and stress. Depression, in particular, can cause problems with memory and concentration; it’s often mistaken for Alzheimer's disease in older adults.
9) Get regular medical checkups. Abnormalities in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and thyroid gland can affect your brain's functioning.
10) Don't worry about being forgetful. You're not the first person to drive off with your coffee cup sitting on the roof of your car. Unless you feel your forgetfulness is unusually frequent, don't panic.
Staying calm improves alertness and, therefore, keeps your memory sharp.
Article by Eve Lees. Used with permission from CPCA Maturity Matters newsletter. 
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