How does our ability to remember things change as we age? It’s a question many people – especially those in their middle and later years – often ask. Others want to know if the memory loss they’re experiencing is normal and what they can do to improve information retention and memory.
It’s important to know that random lapse of memory is a common part of aging. It also can be caused by fatigue and stress in our daily lives. It’s not unusual to experience occasional forgetfulness. In fact, people as young as age 40 may begin to notice that it takes longer to recall certain information.
Just as we strive to keep our bodies fit, we can also take steps to keep our minds sharp.
Here are some suggestions:
- Boost mental activity – Reading, writing, crossword puzzles or other word/strategy games are some things you can do to improve mental sharpness. Consider learning a new skill, such as a new language or musical instrument, as a way to keep your brain active.
- Exercise regularly – Physical activity maintains blood flow to the brain and may help reduce risk factors associated with dementia.
- Eat healthy – Research shows that eating vegetables may help slow the rate of cognitive change in adults. Avoid foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol. It’s also been shown that eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna, may positively impact brain health.
- Avoid unhealthy habits – Smoking and heavy alcohol use can adversely affect memory and cognitive ability.
- Get adequate sleep – Lack of sleep can impair memory.
- Reduce stress – Stress can have an impact on your physical, emotional and mental health. Take a few minutes each day to relax and de-stress. Deep breathing and meditation may be helpful.
Memory loss is a normal part of the aging process. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your ability to remember things. To determine if there is a need for evaluation, the doctor will likely ask you how often the memory lapses occur, what kinds of things are forgotten and if the occurrences affect daily life.