Richard Restak, author of Think Smart: A Neuroscientist's Prescription for Improving Your Brain's Performance explained that aging and memory loss do not have to go hand in hand. In fact, according to Restak, “as we get older, we can still get smarter.” How you accomplish this is a matter of approaching memory as a skill you can develop with practice, or a health condition you can maintain with the right balance of self-care. Here are our top tips for maintaining your memory:
- Make self care a priority. That means embracing stress-reducing treatments like yoga, meditation, or massage. Don’t think of it as indulgence, but as therapies to help you function physically, emotionally, and mentally at your best. The less stress, the more mental energy to have to dedicate to things like taking in your surroundings, living fully in the present moment, and remembering the world around you.
- Make exercise part of your routine. Some level and type of physical activity every day will improve your overall health, physical AND mental. Not only will exercise reduce stress and flood your body with positive chemicals like endorphins, it will increase the rate at which your body circulates oxygen and nutrients, including through your brain. A little effort goes a long way.
- Make room for your social life. There’s no end to the benefits of an active social life, even for introverts. People introduce you to new ideas, situations, activities, and events. They give you someone to talk to and make new memories with. The pleasure of companionship can also reduce stress. The more you engage with the world around you, the better your memory function will be. Isn’t it better to engage with a friend?
- Make time to for learning. Think about how much toddlers learn each and every day, at the exact same time their brains are physically growing and developing at an unprecedented rate. Learning gives our brains a reason to grow new connections and increase electrical activity, which is wonderful at any age. Give your brain a reason to grow and stay strong by picking up a new hobby, learning a new skill like a musical instrument or crafts, reading new books, or taking classes at your local college.
- Make something new every day. Whether it’s taking different streets on your way to your grand children’s house, working on a painting, trying a new recipe, gardening, or meeting new friends, make something new and exciting happen every day. While routines can help you remember things, new experiences give your mind the exercise and stimulation it needs to stay healthy and strong.
You have a wonderful opportunity in your seniors years—the time for new pursuits and explorations, and the chance to take on new challenges. These opportunities are wonderful not only for enjoying yourself, but also for preserving your memory function and even improving it. Try one or all of these suggestions today to make the most of each day.