5 Tips to Improve Your Memory

older-man-with-crossword-resizedHow often does your day start with trying to remember where you put your car keys or your wallet? Have you become an expert at talking to someone you know without calling them by name because you just can’t pull the name from the tip of your tongue? Do you regularly find yourself standing in a room of your house, wondering what you meant to get or do?

We all have these kinds of memory lapses. Luckily, there are easy things we can do to improve your memory and attention.

Jefferson neurologist Mijail D. Serruya, MD, PhD, who specializes in cognitive neurology, provides some tips for avoiding those embarrassing “senior moments.”

1. Get plenty of sleep

If you are tired, it is difficult to stay attentive and remember things. So, it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene. That means put down your smartphone and stop answering e-mails in the bedroom. Try to avoid eating a big meal or having tons of caffeine late in the evening. Avoid distractions in bed, such as TV watching.

2. Engage your brain

Cognitive engagement is important for everyone in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s … Keep your mind engaged with activities you enjoy. If you love to read, pick up a new book. If you enjoy crossword puzzles, take the time to do crosswords. Maybe you want to take up – or resume – playing a musical instrument, or take a class at your local college.

3. Keep a lively social calendar

We are social beings and we need social interaction. Facebook is a may connect you with old friends and stay in touch with far-flung family members, but face-to-face time is much more important for your brain. Make a point to go on a dinner date with your spouse or go to a comedy club with friends.

4. Exercise and follow a healthy diet

The same kinds of things that are good for your heart can help your brain and your memory. Working out at least three times a week until you sweat and are out of breath is great. If you already do that, increase your workouts. Eating a healthy diet that minimizes processed foods and simple carbs and emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and omega 3 fatty acids is also good.

5. Some other things that can help

Take time to disengage from all the gadgets that surround you. Meditative practices such as mindfulness-based stress reduction have been shown to enhance mood, memory and attention. Try to listen more and focus on paying attention.

And yes, the strategies that are used for Alzheimer’s patients can help improve your memory, too. Force structures into your life. Routines help – if you always put your keys in a certain place, it becomes like motor memory. When you are introduced to someone, try repeating his or her name or try to associate the name with the place you met the person to help yourself remember it later.

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