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Exercise Your Brain as an Older Adult with These 20 Memory Boosting Activities


An older adult working on a crossword puzzle

Older adults who experience memory lapses often worry that these might be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or another memory disorder. Those with a family history of these illnesses are likely to become even more concerned about their own memory health as they grow older, and may even worry that this kind of severe memory loss is inevitable with age. Dementia, however, is NOT a normal part of aging. Forgetting a thing or two happens to nearly everyone; severe memory loss does not.

If you count yourself among these individuals anxious over the possibility of dementia, don’t let your fears weigh you down. Occasional memory lapses are common in middle-aged and older adults, and are a normal part of the aging process. Most people who experience these are able to maintain healthy memories well into later life.

However, certain age-related conditions or medications may have a negative effect on memory performance. These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Decreased thyroid levels
  • Low blood sugar levels. This condition can effect thought processes and memory temporarily, but can be treated immediately with sugar and prevented with careful monitoring of blood sugar levels.
  • Antidepressants, allergy medicines, certain pain relievers, sleep medications and other medicines. Before taking them, you should talk to your doctor about potential memory-related side effects.

The good news is that many of these conditions can be treated effectively with medications, lifestyle changes or a combination of the two.

20 ways to exercise your memory

There are a variety of techniques and strategies older adults can use to maintain and even improve memories. These memory boosters are mentally challenging and often fun, and they don’t involve medications that may have side effects that could potentially exhaust mental focus.
Here are 20 different tips you can try to energize your memory:

  1. Decrease stress. Clear your mind and sit quietly for five minutes
  2. Work 20 minutes of physical activity that gets your heart pumping and your brain energized into each day. Depending on your physical ability, this can include a light activity like sweeping the floor, or a workout routine, if your doctor approves
  3. If you need to remember something — the name of your new neighbor, doctor’s appointments, a friend’s address — write it down
  4. Turn off the TV. Instead, try playing a board game or game of cards with your friends or grandchildren 
  5. Read a book
  6. Energize your diet with brain foods rich in Vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid A which can found in spinach, broccoli, strawberries, beans, melons, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, green tea, berries, citrus fruits and other fruits and vegetables. Some studies also suggest that the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurological Delay (also known as the MIND Diet) can have positive effects on brain health, and may even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
  7. Keep a daily journal to record your thoughts, feelings, ideas and emotions
  8. Get at least eight hours of sleep
  9. Solve the daily crossword puzzle
  10. Go through your school yearbooks and revisit old memories
  11. Play with your pet, or visit a local animal shelter
  12. Memorize a poem
  13. Explore new stress management techniques
  14. Set goals for changing parts of your health or diet that may be impacting you negatively, like smoking, drinking or eating junk food
  15. Listen to music
  16. Make it a point to connect names with faces when meeting someone new
  17. Watch a how-to video about a task or activity you’ve always wanted to learn
  18. Talk to kids — your own grandchildren or the children of friends, family or neighbors
  19. Ask friends or loved ones to tell you an interesting story about themselves, and be an active listener by asking questions
  20. Write a letter to a friend instead of emailing a message or making a phone call

This article appeared in Private Health News

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