Surefire Ways to Remember Anything, Anytime
Most people have experienced a memory lapse where they can't remember the name of a TV show they just watched or what they needed from the grocery story and it's common according to Dr. Vernon Williams, MD, sports neurologist, pain management specialist, and founding director of the Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, CA. "If you're like most people, you have experienced memory loss at some point in your life. From forgetting where you put something to not being immediately able to recall a person's name, most of us have been there a time or two. However, as we age, more consistent and sometimes severe memory declines can begin to take hold – forcing the person experiencing them to alter their way of living to cope. Alzheimer's disease and dementia are among the age-related memory disorders that can have a debilitating effect on a person's quality of life, and unfortunately, can also shorten that life. But we don't have to accept devastating memory problems as a fact of life as we get older. There is plenty we can do right now to help maintain our memory function and enhance it." To find ways to help improve memory, Eat This, Not That! Health talked to medical experts who revealed their tricks for remembering anything, anytime. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Dr. Williams says, "Making daily physical activity a priority optimizes blood flow to the entire body, brain included. Adequate blood and oxygen supply to the brain helps keep our memories sharp. Studies have shown that physically active people have a lower risk of mental decline and the development of Alzheimer's disease. I often remind my patients that the brain loves movement. But not all exercise is created equal. Keep in mind, only moving your body may not confer maximum benefit when it comes to brain health. To get the most brain-boosting bang for your buck, aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of heart-pumping cardiovascular exercise most days a week. Some options include running, power walking, swimming, and cycling. Of course, be sure to clear any new activity with your doctor before you begin."
Learn New Things
According to Dr. Williams, "Memory experts believe that advanced education helps keep a person's memory healthy. Challenge your brain with mental exercise by learning new things. You don't have to confine this learning to "formal education" inside a classroom, either. Any new skill or way of doing something helps the brain grow. Scientists believe that challenging our minds with mental exercise can help maintain the health of brain cells and stimulate them to communicate better with each other – all essential processes for memory to function correctly."
Use Your Senses
"Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, and Touch. Unique in how they transmit information, all five senses send signals to the brain via neural pathways," Dr. Williams states. "The brain then interprets those signals to help us make sense of the world around us. Scientists have long believed that the better we are at combining sensory information, the better we will remember what we are learning or experiencing. Additionally, studies have shown that the more senses used when performing a task, the more likely the action will be more concretely committed to memory."
Dr. Verna R. Porter, MD, neurologist and director of the Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease and Neurocognitive Disorders at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, explains, "Staying socially engaged may help protect against Alzheimer's disease and dementia in later life; maintaining a strong network of family and friends is very important. Regularly connecting with others, face-to-face, is important. Social connections may also be enhanced through volunteer organizations, joining various clubs or social groups, taking group classes (e.g. in a gym or a community college) or getting out into the community (e.g. going to the movies, the park, museums, and other public places)."
Dr. Porter says, "Keep stimulating your brain throughout life by engaging intellectually. Education at any age may protect against cognitive decline. Consider taking a class or volunteering to keep your brain fit while staying socially engaged. Visit Experience Corps, Volunteer Match, Serve.gov, or Volunteer.gov to learn more. Learn something new. Study a foreign language, practice a musical instrument, learn to paint or sew, or read the newspaper or a good book."
"Though it might seem like a contrary concept, one of the most fundamental ways to keep your brain functioning correctly and sharp is to turn it off for 7-9 hours every day," Dr. Williams says. "Powering down on a nightly basis allows the brain to heal and restore itself, clearing toxins that can lead to Alzheimer's disease and other dementia types. Your brain does its essential "housekeeping via memory consolidation during your body's deep sleep state. For these reasons, a consistent lack of quality sleep can be associated with a steeper memory decline as a person gets older. Prioritize quality sleep as you would a healthy diet and daily exercise." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.