You can’t remember where you put your car keys or glasses. Something’s on the tip of your tongue and you can’t seem to get it out. You walk into a room and can’t remember why you went in there.
We all have mental slip ups from time to time. Aging can have an impact on mental acuity, and when something stressful is going on, it only seems to get worse.
This is not hopeless, though, because there are steps we all can take to help keep our minds sharp and reduce memory loss as we age.
- Step on it. Taking a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes can do wonders to keep the brain boosted. Some studies suggest physical activity promotes healthy nerve cells in the brain, and that can help your memory. Exercise also can help prevent health conditions that can lead to memory loss such as stroke, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- Work your mind. Research also shows that when it comes to your mind, playing games is good. Solve puzzles, play a brain-training app, watch a baseball game with your buddies and discuss the score and players’ statistics.
- Living social. The more social connections you have, the better your chances of preserving your memory. So join a dance group, play cards, join a book club, travel with friends. Participate in activities that make you happy. That helps avoid depression, which often happens when you’re socially isolated. Researchers say depression can lead to memory-robbing dementia.
- Sleep it off. Getting a good night’s sleep helps increase concentration and attention. You can’t be mentally sharp when you haven’t gotten enough rest. You’ll get better sleep if you avoid large meals before going to bed, decrease alcohol and caffeine near bedtime, avoid smoking and do your best to rise and go to bed at the same time morning and night.
- Don’t worry. Stressing over life’s concerns is bad for your brain. It’s harder to pull information from your brain when you have high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. For stress relief, try prayer, meditation, a massage or yoga.
- Something’s not right? You can tell when you’re forgetting things more than usual. Sometimes, medical conditions such as diabetes, depression, vitamin deficiencies or thyroid disease can contribute to memory loss. If you suspect you may have an underlying issue, go see a doctor.
- Use mind tricks. When your meet a new person, repeat their name three times to sear it into your mind. To help remember things you need to do, post sticky notes around the house, set alerts in your phone calendar to remember appointments, and use lists to recall chores and errands you need to run.
Paul Bridgewater, President and CEO, Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA), hosts “The Senior Solution” on WCHB Newstalk 1200AM, Saturdays at 10 a.m. DAAA is located at 1333 Brewery Park Blvd., Suite 200, Detroit, MI 48207; (313) 446-4444; www.DetroitSeniorSolution.com