Science has proven that, as we get older, our ability to learn and recollect slows down and we can’t pluck facts out of our brain as effortlessly as we once did. However, by practicing some of the following tips, you may find that the power to improve things lies within your own hands –
- Use the link method to help you remember lists of things – link the different items together to make a picture/story in your head. That way, once you’ve remembered the first item, the others will follow on as you bring the picture/story to mind.
- Try to check bills or add up the price of shopping using mental arithmetic as this activates the working memory part of your brain which is responsible for maintaining focus and concentration.
- Play a mind game by mixing up everyday activities such as which hand controls the mouse or which route you take to the shops. This gives your brain cells a good workout by having to adapt and communicate, also saving them from dying off too soon.
- Slow down and pay attention to where you leave things which allows your brain to create a lasting memory.
- A place for everything and everything has its place – try to leave things like keys and glasses in the same place at home so there are no surprises when you next need them in a hurry.
- Close your eyes if you are trying to recall where you left something. Apparently this helps you visualize better and is thought to stop you getting distracted, thereby freeing up brain power to remember where you last had the item.
- Try not to multitask so you don’t absent-mindedly discard things while your mind’s elsewhere. For the same reason noisy environments aren’t conducive to boosting your memory …”I can’t hear myself think here”!
- Aim for those precious eight hours of sleep every night and, if that fails, try to go for a 20-minute power nap during the day. The part of the brain known as the hippocampus processes that day’s memories whilst you sleep and if you are deprived of sleep, memories will not be processed which can lead to forgetfulness.
- Clean your teeth twice daily and go to your 6-monthly dental check-ups, as research has shown a link between gum disease and low scores in memory tests. It is thought that infected gums may release inflammatory by-products into the bloodstream which can then affect the parts of the brain involved in memory.
- Have your blood pressure checked – if you suffer from high blood pressure for a long time, it can narrow your arteries and reduce blood flow to the brain causing forgetfulness.
- Three sessions of 40 minutes exercise each week has been shown to reverse brain shrinkage in those aged over 50. Researchers are looking into whether exercise can potentially even lead to brain growth and better memory.
- Watch what you eat – many foods have been pronounced as “brain foods”, one of the lesser known ones is curcumin, a substance within the spice turmeric, which has been found to delay memory loss. Scientists are investigating if there is a link between the spices consumed there and the fact that India has one of the world’s lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease … and did we mention dark chocolate? Apparently the cocoa flavanols present in dark chocolate help to widen blood vessels thereby increasing the blood flow to the brain which can help to boost mental sharpness, leading us to conclude that every cloud has a silver lining!
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