Staff Researcher/Part-time Writer
Memory loss is a natural process that comes with aging. It can be devastating to realize that your mind isn’t as sharp as it once was. However, we don’t have to completely surrender to memory loss. There are many things you can do to slow down memory loss or help prevent Alzheimer’s. Forgetfulness is nothing you can’t overcome by working at it. In fact, bettering your memory can be fun if you incorporate a few simple activities into your daily life.
Recall from images
Pour over your old yearbooks or scrapbooks and recall as many details about each photograph as possible. This stimulates nostalgia, and you may be shocked at the memories you have kept over time. Returning to those same photos after a couple days could reveal even more memories. Periodically returning to photographs of happy moments in the past keeps them fresh on your mind. Look at wedding albums or baby photos to keep your most precious memories.
Playing Scrabble or other word-centric board games is excellent for your memory. It can help you hone your spelling abilities and can enrich your vocabulary. It builds concentration and keeps you mentally acute.
You are also encouraged to employ creative strategies — that is, if you want to win — and place words with scrutiny to achieve the best results. Crossword puzzles are also helpful at keeping you mentally nimble, and can be played solo if you can’t convince others to join in on your game of Scrabble.
Create mnemonic devices
Mnemonics are methods used to help remember something, and can take many different forms. An example would be the song “50 Nifty United States” for remembering the various states in America, or “I before E,
except after C,” as a rhyme to help with spelling. Coming up with mnemonic devices for various things helps you remember them and can be a bit like a game. If you have trouble with names, try to come up with mnemonics to help with recall. Maybe think of someone famous with the same name to help create a link between this person and the memorable celebrity.
Throw a party, go bowling, or go out to eat. Any activity that you can do with a group of friends encourages socializing, which is effective at stalling memory loss. Isolation is bad for the brain, as we are truly social beings and crave human companionship. By becoming withdrawn, the brain can lie dormant, unencumbered by the daily challenges of relationships and general communication. Socialization doesn’t have to be with friends; simply volunteering or being with family accomplishes the same goal.
Read a good book
While we may be tempted to watch our entertainment, reading exercises our brain in a much more satisfying way and has been linked to memory retention. The mental energy used to process words keeps our minds at their peak. Next time a film comes out based on a best-selling novel, opt for the novel. It will force you to explore things in a much deeper, intellectual way. Like a muscle, the brain atrophies when inert and grows when it is challenged.
Learn a new language
You can use the aforementioned mnemonic devices to help you learn a new language, which again strengthens the brain and aids greatly in keeping your memory intact. Learning a new language — or a new instrument also works — stimulates creativity and parts of your brain that may be accumulating dust. If you’re a senior with plenty of time on your hands, take advantage of this unique time to garner new skills. Not only will you be more cultured, your brain will thank you with a keener sense of memory.