Memory loss: 7 tips to improve your memory
Concerned about memory loss? Take heart. Simple steps — from staying mentally active to including physical activity in your daily routine — might help sharpen your memory.By Mayo Clinic Staff
Can't find your car keys? Forget what's on your grocery list? Can't remember the name of the personal trainer you liked at the gym? You're not alone. Everyone forgets things occasionally. Still, memory loss is nothing to take lightly.
Although there are no guarantees when it comes to preventing memory loss or dementia, memory tricks can be helpful. Consider seven simple ways to sharpen your memory — and know when to seek help for memory loss.
1. Stay mentally active
Just as physical activity helps keep your body in shape, mentally stimulating activities help keep your brain in shape — and might keep memory loss at bay. Do crossword puzzles. Read a section of the newspaper that you normally skip. Take alternate routes when driving. Learn to play a musical instrument. Volunteer at a local school or community organization.
2. Socialize regularly
Social interaction helps ward off depression and stress, both of which can contribute to memory loss. Look for opportunities to get together with loved ones, friends and others — especially if you live alone. When you're invited to share a meal or attend an event, go!
3. Get organized
You're more likely to forget things if your home is cluttered and your notes are in disarray. Jot down tasks, appointments and other events in a special notebook, calendar or electronic planner. You might even repeat each entry out loud as you jot it down to help cement it in your memory. Keep to-do lists current and check off items you've completed. Set aside a certain place for your wallet, keys and other essentials.
Limit distractions and don't try to do too many things at once. If you focus on the information that you're trying to remember, you'll be more likely to recall it later. It might also help to connect what you're trying to remember to a favorite song or another familiar concept.
4. Sleep well
Sleep plays an important role in helping you consolidate your memories, so you can recall them down the road. Make getting enough sleep a priority. Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a day.
March 05, 2014
See more In-depth
- Press D, et al. Prevention of dementia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 8, 2013.
- Understanding memory loss: What to do when you have trouble remembering. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/understanding-memory-loss. Accessed Nov. 8, 2013.
- Forgetfulness: Knowing when to ask for help. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/forgetfulness. Accessed Nov. 8, 2013.
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/PAGUIDELINES/guidelines/default.aspx. Accessed Nov. 8, 2013.
- Ertel KA, et al. Effects of social integration on preserving memory function in a nationally representative US elderly population. American Journal of Public Health. 2008;98:1215.
- Angevaren M, et al. Physical activity and enhanced fitness to improve cognitive function in older people without known cognitive impairment. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005381.pub3/abstract. Accessed Nov. 8, 2013.
- Grandjean AC, et al. Dehydration and cognitive performance. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2007;26:549S.
- Inostroza M, et al. Sleep for preserving and transforming episodic memory. Annual Review of Neuroscience. 2013;36:79.
- Brain basics: Understanding sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm. Accessed Nov. 11, 2013.
- Ahlskog JE, et al. Physical activity as a preventive or disease-modifying treatment of dementia and brain aging. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2011;86:876.