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5 ways to keep your memory sharp and Tips to get the most out of your memory

While trawling through my usual internet sources this below from Harvard Medical School caught my eye and seems like good advice.

memory in good shape

The way you live, what you eat and drink, and how you treat your body can affect your memory just as much as your physical health and well-being. Here are five things you can do every day to keep both your mind and body sharp.

  1. Manage your stress. The constant drumbeat of daily stresses such as deadline pressures or petty arguments can certainly distract you and affect your ability to focus and recall. But the bigger problem is an ongoing sense of anxiety — that can lead to memory impairment. If you don’t have a strategy in place for managing your stress, protecting your memory is one reason to get one. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and a “mindful” approach to living can all help. CORE HEALTH Network has help at hand if anxiety is an issue for you.
  2. Get a good night’s sleep. People who don’t sleep well at night tend to be more forgetful than people who sleep soundly. A good night’s sleep is essential for consolidating memories. The most common reason for poor sleep is insomnia — difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Unfortunately, many medicines used to treat insomnia can also impair memory and general brain function. That’s why it’s best to try improving your sleep habits first and turn to medication only if those steps don’t help. If you do need sleep aids, use the lowest dose for the shortest time needed to get your sleep back on track.
  3. CORE HEALTH Network hopes soon to have an insomnia therapy group up and running and will keep you informed.
  4. If you smoke, quit. Easier said than done, certainly — but if you need additional motivation, know that smokers have a greater degree of age-related memory loss and other memory problems than non-smokers. People who smoke more than two packs of cigarettes a day at midlife have more than double the risk of developing dementia in old age compared with non-smokers. However, those who stop smoking by midlife and those who smoke less than half a pack a day have a similar a risk of dementia as people who have never smoked.
  5. If you drink alcohol, do so moderately. Drinking too much alcohol increases the risk for memory loss and dementia. People with alcoholism have difficulty performing short-term memory tasks, such as memorizing lists. Another type of memory loss associated with alcohol use is called Korsakoff’s syndrome. In this condition, long-term vitamin B1 deficiency, combined with the toxic effects of alcohol on the brain, can trigger sudden and dramatic amnesia. In some cases this memory loss is permanent, but if caught early, it can be reversed to some degree.
  6. Protect your brain from injury. Head trauma is a major cause of memory loss and increases the risk of developing dementia. Always use the appropriate gear during high-speed activities and contact sports. Wear a helmet when bicycling, riding on a motorcycle, skating, and skiing. Wear seat belts when riding in motor vehicles. Car accidents are by far the most common cause of brain injury, and wearing a seat belt greatly reduces the chances of severe head injury.

Tips to get the most out of your memory

Dont forget

As you are getting older, have you noticed that you often find yourself marching around the house in a huff, searching for misplaced car keys or spectacles, or you just cannot remember the name of that new neighbour you met when walking the dog? It’s frustrating, to be sure, but not inevitable — and there are things you can do to help keep your memory sharp.

“Most people get a little more forgetful with aging, but there are some simple things you can do to prevent memory slips and help your brain to learn and remember better,” says Dr. Anne Fabiny, chief of geriatrics at Cambridge Health Alliance and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Memory-boosting tips

Dr. Fabiny suggests the following tips and tricks:

  • Follow routines, such as leaving your car keys, glasses, and mobile phone in the same place every day so that finding them becomes a “no-brainer.”
  • Slow down and pay attention to what you are doing to give your brain’s memory systems enough time to create an enduring memory.
  • Avoid distracting or noisy environments and multitasking — the major memory busters in today’s fast-paced society.
  • Get enough sleep, reduce stress, and check with your doctor to see if any of your medications affect memory — all three are potential memory spoilers.

Is it forgetfulness or Alzheimer’s?

Worried that your minor memory slips mean you are headed toward Alzheimer’s disease? That’s probably not the case. Like it or not, science shows that the ability to learn new information and recall it may decline somewhat after 50. “You just can’t pull things out of your memory the way you used to at the same speed,” Dr. Fabiny says.

But forgetfulness can be a serious issue if it’s starting to interfere with daily tasks and routines, such as managing your health care and finances.

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