Have you ever found yourself forgetting simple things like where you put your car keys or what you went into a room for? It happens to all of us from time to time, and in most cases, it’s nothing serious. However, memory loss can be frustrating and even a sign of early dementia. With the number of people living with dementia predicted to rise to 1.6 million by 2040, it’s important to take care of your memory and keep it in good shape.
Professor Hana Burianová, a cognitive neuroscientist working with Healthspan, suggests several practical activities that can help improve your memory on a daily basis. These activities can be easily incorporated into your routine, so you don’t forget to do them. Here are some of her recommendations:
1. Be present: Take a few minutes every day to focus on your surroundings and engage all five senses. Look around and name five things you see, four things you can touch, three things you hear, two things you smell, and one thing you taste. This exercise helps to center your attention and improve your concentration.
2. Start gaming: Playing word and geography games can improve your memory. Try online games like Wordle or Worldle, which challenge your concentration and memory. Other games like Framed or Semantle can also help exercise your memory skills.
3. Close your eyes: Perform routine activities with your eyes closed to prevent your brain from running on autopilot. Get dressed or brush your teeth with your eyes closed, which forces you to pay more attention and use your long-term memory.
4. Test yourself: Play memory games with your family or friends. Lay out a group of household items on a table for one minute, then cover them and try to remember as many items as possible. You can also challenge yourself by creating memory tasks, such as singing your shopping list to a catchy tune or creating visual pathways for things you need to remember.
5. Have sex: Not only does sex release happy hormones that improve immune and cardiovascular functions, but it also supports cognitive and emotional processing, including memory. Afterward, take a nap, as sleep is essential for memory consolidation and cleansing the brain of harmful protein deposits.
6. Find your voice: Repeat someone’s name when you meet them for the first time and try to work it into conversation a few more times to cement it in your memory. Saying a name out loud or recording new information can help improve memory retention.
7. Find a beat: Engage in physical activities, such as dancing or playing a sport, as exercise improves brain health and memory. Physical activity increases oxygen levels in the body, activates the lymphatic and glymphatic systems, and aids in the production of new neurons and connections.
While occasional forgetfulness is normal, certain symptoms may warrant a visit to your doctor. If you have extreme difficulty concentrating, extreme fatigue or brain fog, trouble finding words or expressing yourself, inability to ignore irrelevant information, inability to organize thoughts, or pose a danger to yourself or others, it may be beneficial to seek medical advice.
Taking care of your memory is crucial not only for reducing dementia risk but also for maintaining mental sharpness as you age. Incorporating these practical tips into your daily routine can help give your grey matter an upgrade and keep your memory in tip-top shape.