Strategies to Maintain Your Memory as You Age

Physical changes naturally happen to your body as you age. This includes changes to the various organs within your body, including your brain. In the final analysis, change is a natural part of aging. With that said, there are some specific tactics you need consider employing as a means to enhance your brain health and maintain your memory as you grow older. These important memory maintenance strategies include:

  • Include physical activity in your daily routine
  • Stay mentally active
  • Socialize regularly
  • Get organized
  • Sleep well
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Manage chronic conditions

Include Physical Activity in Your Daily Routine

Active in the field of Alzheimer’s and dementia care, treatment, and research, the Mayo Clinic advises that physical activity in a person’s daily routine appears to be instrumental in maintaining memory and staving off cognitive decline. While more research is needed in regard to the nexus between memory maintenance and physical activity, early evidence suggest that physical exercise ensures suitable blood flow to the brain. It also increases the presence of chemicals that specially are designed to protect an individual’s brain. 

The Mayo Clinic concludes that exercising several times per week for between 30 and 60 minutes in each session has these brain benefits for an older individual:

  • Keeps thinking, reasoning, and learning skills sharp
  • Improves memory
  • Delays the start of Alzheimer’s for those at risk of the disease
  • Increases the size of the part of the brain responsible for memory 

Stay Mentally Active

A very important tactic to take to better maintain your memory power as you grow older is to stay mentally active. Harvard Medical School sums up the benefits of staying mentally active as you grow older and what you can do to accomplish that objective:

Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them. Many people have jobs that keep them mentally active but pursuing a hobby or learning a new skill can function the same way. Read; join a book group; play chess or bridge; write your life story; do crossword or jigsaw puzzles; take a class; pursue music or art; design a new garden layout. At work, propose or volunteer for a project that involves a skill you don’t usually use. Building and preserving brain connections is an ongoing process, so make lifelong learning a priority.

Socialize Regularly

Research has revealed that being socially active provides physical and mental health benefits. This particularly is true for women and men in the latter years of their lives. Research underscores that social interaction protects against cognitive decline and aids in maintaining a person’s memory. 

Researchers from Ohio State University in Columbus conducted a study in which they concluded:

Our research suggests that merely having a larger social network can positively influence the aging brain.

The results of the Ohio State University research study were published in the authoritative journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

Get Organized

In the book Psychology of Learning and Motivation, a chapter is dedicated to the connection or correlation between organization and memory. The text concludes that the process of memory function is a process of organization. “Memorization or learning depends on organization and the organizational variables determine memory.”

Organizational variables include:

  • Organized thought
  • Organized physical environment around a person

Sleep Well

We are hearing more and more each and every year about the crucial importance of sleep. Proper sleep is necessary for our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Proper sleep is crucial to being able to maintain your memory as you age.

The Sleep Health Foundation enumerates three points about the importance of sleep in regard to memory (and creativity):

  • Sleep works to prepare our brain for learning new things. When we are well-rested we are able to pay better attention to new information.
  • Sleep will help make new information stick in our minds. During sleep, the brain replays memories from the day, making the neural connections stronger. This helps us remember the things we experienced when we were awake. 
  • Sleep also helps our creativity. Sleep helps us find new solutions to problems by looking at things in a new way while we sleep. You may have heard people say they will “sleep on it” in order to solve a problem or make a decision. While this statement might seem like a cliché, it actually is a biological and scientific reality that problem solving can occur while sleeping. 

Eat a Healthy Diet

Dietary decisions can positively or negatively impact a person’s memory. By eating a healthy diet, you enhance the prospects of being able to maintain your memory as you age. 

Examples of foods that appear to be helpful in memory maintenance include vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, as well as dark, leafy greens. Blackberries, blueberries, and cherries also appear to be helpful in sustaining memory as an individual grows older. Walnuts are though to improve heart health and be beneficial when it comes to memory

Finally, when it comes to eating a healthy diet, a person needs to be certain to get adequate omega-3 fatty acids. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in these foods:

  • Salmon
  • Bluefin tuna
  • Sardines
  • Herring 

Manage Chronic Conditions

Older people tend to have one or another chronic conditions. These include things such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and other conditions. Research has found that there is connection between managing chronic conditions appropriately and memory. For example, if diabetes is left unmanaged, the disease will negatively impact a person’s body and health. This includes memory and cognitive health.