If you’re concerned about memory loss, you’re not alone. Don’t remember where you parked? Forgot what you needed to pick up at the store? Can’t find your cellphone? Everyone struggles with forgetting things now and then.
But memory loss shouldn’t be ignored. There are no proven ways to prevent memory loss or dementia, but some simple steps can help sharpen your memory.
Be mentally active
Regular physical exercise helps keep your body in shape and regular mentally stimulating activities can help do the same for your brain. Keeping your brain stimulated and engaged may help stave off memory loss. Taking part in any new and challenging mentally activity is good exercise for the brain. Do puzzles. Read a book on a subject you know nothing about. Learn to play a musical instrument. Learn a new language.
Keep clutter to a minimum in your home. Designate specific places in your home for important items like your keys or wallet. Keep all your personal notes in one place so nothing gets lost or takes too long to track down. If you use a to-do list, keep it up to date and remove items as they are completed. When you write a note down for yourself, try repeating it out loud as you do to help reinforce it in your memory.
Don’t multi-task excessively. Try and limit distractions and focus on the information that you’re trying to remember, you’re much more likely to recall it successfully.
Choose a healthy diet
Heart-healthy, nutritious meals may be as good for your brain as they are for your body. Opt for whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Choose lean, low-fat protein sources like fish and poultry. Pay attention to what your drink as well. Not drinking enough water or consuming too much alcohol can lead to dehydration, confusion and memory loss.
Regular physical activity increases blood flow to your entire body, including your brain. Exercise may help keep your memory sharp. 30 minutes of physical activity daily can have a very positive impact on your overall health. If a vigorous workout isn’t possible, a couple of light 15 minute walks will still be very beneficial.
Social interaction has been shown to help prevent depression and stress, which can both contribute to memory loss. Seek out opportunities to get together with friends and family — particularly if you live alone. Take a class or join a community group that will give you opportunities to meet new people. Chat and interact with friends and family online.
Manage chronic conditions
Stay on top of your health and follow your doctor’s recommendations for conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and depression. Regularly review any medications you are taking with your doctor. Some medications can affect memory.
When should you seek help for memory loss? If you feel that memory loss has begun to affect your ability to complete day-to-day activities — consult your doctor.