When we forget something it can be embarrassing and worrying, especially in our 60s. We wonder if we’re getting senile, but tend to jump to conclusions about memory lapses – it really does happen to everyone.
It has been found that you can improve your brain as you get older, and it doesn’t have to decline as everyone believes. Neuroplasticity, the building of new connections in the brain, has proven to be effective in strengthening memory and agility as we age.
Here are 12 simple ways you can start to flex that big ol’ brain muscle today.
1. Play brain training games
You may have heard of brain games but may not have used them. The saying ‘use it or lose it’ really applies here – your brain needs you to use it and test it. Brain games can be found on the internet or via apps. Try to invest 20 minutes a day in brain training. You’ll be surprised how much you improve.
2. Ginkgo leaf
Ginkgo has been used in Chinese medicine for many thousands of years, and has been proven to increase blood circulation and help improve memory in patients suffering from dementia. Gingko can also enhance mental performance and boost memory in people with normally functioning brains. The recommended daily dose is 120 mg taken as a tablet, capsule, liquid or tea made out of the dried leaves.
3. Pistachio nuts
If your memory loss is the result of a thiamine deficiency, pistachio nuts can help. The recommended daily intake for thiamine is 1.4 mg for men and 1mg for women over 50.
Pull the artichoke apart, leaf by leaf, then put the pieces into a jar and add enough water to cover. Cover the jar with a lid and place in a pan with water. Boil for two hours, adding more water to the pan (not the jar) as necessary. Strain the contents of the jar and give the artichoke leaves a good squeeze to get out all the juices. Take 3 to 4 tablespoons four times a day.
5. Vitamin E
Studies have reported improved short-term memory in older adults who took supplemental vitamin E. Older men and women with high vitamin E levels are less likely to suffer from memory disorders than their peerswho do not have high vitamin E levels.
6. Master a new skill
You may have been told to get a hobby in your 60s, and it’s very true. Purposeful activities stimulate your neurological system and enhances health in the brain and body. The more serious (how much you need to concentrate) the task, the better for your brain.
One study revealed that craft activities such as quilting and knitting were associated with decreased odds of having mild cognitive impairment. Find something you enjoy that requires your undivided attention and gives you great happiness.
7. Don’t walk through a doorway
Have you ever walked into another room and completely forgotten what you went in there for? This is a very common phenomena and occurs because your brain compartmentalises things into rooms, literally and figuratively. That’s why you have to go back into the room to remember what ti was. If you are needing to go into another room for something, try to think about why you’re leaving the room you’re in as you go through the doorway. This increases your chances of remembering.
8. Use your fists
This is an interesting one – if you need to remember something and don’t have a pen or paper, clench your fists. Studies show that if you are right-handed, you should make a fist with your right hand before you try to memorise something. Then when you need to remember it, clench your left hand (reverse for left-handed people).
The processes your brain goes through while you’re asleep will help you remember information better the next day so it is important to have a good night’s sleep. Sleep is when your brain consolidates that information into a long-term memory. If you stay awake, your brain can’t go through this process and thus you may become more forgetful.
10. Write things down
It’s more common to be without pen and paper now more than ever, but your phones can be handy to save little bites of info. Download a notes app so you can easily open it and add something you need to remember.
11. Visualise it
One of the weirdest and most effective ways to remember something is to associate it with an image. This can sound tricky but it works like word association. Try to think of an obscure image to remember some key facts about what you need to remember.
Rosemary has been associated with memory improvement ever since William Shakespeare wrote “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance”. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that helps to enhance both memory and concentration.
Do you have any other memory improving tips to share?