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Experts Share Tips for Reversing Memory Loss

You don't have to watch your memory slip away.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Having trouble remembering things can be a disconcerting experience—partly because memory loss is one of the symptoms associated with dementia (the progressive brain disorder of which Alzheimer's disease is the most common form). The good news: You don't have to watch your memory slip away. In recent years, scientists have discovered there are things you can do to protect your brain health and memory, and in some cases, actually reverse memory loss. Experts, including researchers from Cambridge University, recently shared these tips on how to reduce and reverse memory loss. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Brain Training

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"Stimulating activities—cognitive activities, learning new things, and evidence-based brain training—are important" in avoiding and improving cognitive problems like memory loss, said Dr. Barbara J. Sahakian, a professor of clinical neuropsychology at Cambridge University on a recent episode of the "Mind Over Chatter" podcast. The reason: Using the brain—frequently and in new ways—keeps it sharp. Researchers at Cambridge have developed a brain training game called Game Show for people with mild cognitive impairment. "That has been shown to improve episodic memory, functionality and daily life in these individuals," said Sahakian. "It's a great way to have fun and also to stimulate the neuro-circuits in the brain that are important for episodic memory and other forms of cognition." 

2

Treat Hearing Loss

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Hearing loss is a major risk factor for cognitive decline; improving your hearing can reverse brain issues like memory loss. "It's the biggest single factor that has been identified as a modifiable—in other words, treatable—contributor to dementia," said Cambridge neurologist James Rowe on the podcast. "The ability to have some impact on the number of people with dementia some years down the line is perhaps even greater from tackling hearing loss than from tackling those familiar things like smoking and drinking." 

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3

Exercise Daily

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"Exercise, keeping physically active, is very good for you, and that's good for your mood as well as your cognition and reducing your risk of cognitive decline," said Sahakian. In fact, a recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that only 10 minutes of moderate intensity running improves both mood and executive brain function (which includes memory, attention, planning, and organization). Exercise forces the brain to multitask, which may strengthen it, and increases blood flow, which can nourish the brain with nutrients and oxygen.

RELATED: Expert Shares Tips for Reversing Your Aging

4

Improve Your Air Quality

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A new study looked at more than 2,200 women between the ages of 74 to 92 and found that those who lived in areas with greater reductions in air pollution experienced fewer cognitive problems like memory loss. "We found women living in locations with greater improvement in air quality tended to have a slower decline in cognitive function, which was equivalent to being about 1 or 1.5 years younger," said the study's lead author, Dr. Diana Younan of the USC Keck School of Medicine. Other studies have linked air pollution to increased dementia risk. "We hope the new findings from our study tell the policymakers that the health benefits of improved air quality likely include maintaining brain health in older people and that it is worth the continuing efforts to enforce air quality standards and provide more clear air to all," said Younan.

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5

Get Quality Sleep

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Sleep is "your (free) secret weapon to refresh and replenish tissues and cells — among them, those of the brain and immune system," says CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. "It also rinses away waste and debris in the brain that can otherwise foment disease, and it strengthens your memories." Experts recommend getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more