Concerned About Memory Loss? Try These Strategies to Stay Sharp.
Building memory muscle to reduce memory loss as you age is as important as keeping physically fit. Recently, the Mayo Clinic identified important activities to build that memory muscle.
Here, we’ve combined the Mayo’s wisdom with insight from our own therapeutic recreation department to give you strategies you can use to keep your mind sharp.
Keep in mind that while memory loss can be frustrating, it doesn’t necessarily signal a serious condition like dementia. That said, if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms like chronic confusion or an inability to complete daily tasks, it’s best to consult a physician for a professional assessment.
- Exercise Daily
According to the Mayo Clinic, physical activity increases blood flow to your your brain as well as the rest of your body. There’s evidence that this helps keep your memory sharp.
Before starting an exercise routine, check with your physician. Once cleared for activity, aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity. Short 10-minute walks are great, too, if you don’t have time for a full workout.
- Engage Your Brain
Exercise your brain. “We encourage our residents to do crossword puzzles, play bingo, read, or listen to music,” says Carissa Ronish, Therapeutic Recreation administrator at the Witherell. “When you’re engaged in creative activities that encourage problem-solving and decision making, you’re supporting a healthy brain.”
- Make Social Connections
“Social interaction helps ward off depression and stress, both of which can contribute to memory loss,” notes the Mayo Clinic. At every age, social connections are important. “For our residents, regular visits with family and friends, and a robust calendar of events and activities bring joy and help residents stay mentally sharp,” notes Ronish. “Healthy and fun challenges experienced with peers such as scrabble and answering trivia questions builds friendships and keeps the brain active.”
- Get organized
The Mayo Clinic suggests keeping to-do lists and setting aside a regular place for important items like your wallet, keys, glasses and other essentials. To stay focused, it’s also important to limit distractions, jot important information down in a day planner or notebook, or use pneumonic devices to retain info you’d like to recall later.
- Rest Well
Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a day. A tired brain is a forgetful brain, and we’re more likely to make mistakes when we haven’t slept well. Discuss any chronic sleep issues with your physician. Your physician can advise whether you might have a medical condition that would require intervention by a sleep specialist.
- Eat healthy foods
“A healthy diet might be as good for your brain as it is for your heart,” notes the Mayo Clinic. Fruits and vegetables support physical and mental health, so do whole grains and low-fat sources of protein, like beans, fish, and chicken. It’s advised to limit foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates.
- Practice Prevention
Did you know that certain medications could affect memory? If you’re having memory issues, be sure to review current medications with your doctor. Get a regular check-up every year, and follow treatment recommendations for any conditions, such as depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and hearing loss.
The experts at The Nathaniel Witherell’s Memory Care Unit specialize in treating those with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related illnesses. For information or support, contact us at (203) 618-4200 or bit.ly/2kpNrlT