Canadian neurologist Kenneth Rockwood noted "As our brains age, we must prepare them to resist injury — equip them with good education, train them thoughtfully with challenging regimens, support them with nurturing environments and be prepared to refresh them from time to time." When we are children we learn to use our memories by studying the alphabet and the times tables. As adults we have plenty to remember—appointments, names, dates, procedures, events, feelings, and more. It’s important not to neglect that life’s work of memory development simply because of retirement or old age.
- Think like a kid. Focus intently on one thing at a time. Multitasking makes it harder to take in any of the information well, and reduces your ability to remember it later. Embrace curiosity too, and keep up a love for learning. The more you learn the more you will build new synapses and connections in your brain tissue, keeping your mind young.
- Embrace routines, with a purpose. Routines can do a lot to help you remember all your regular tasks. However, they also take away some of the necessity for remembering. If routine helps keep your day on track, try shaking things up just a little bit. For example, brush your teeth at the same time you always do, but try using the opposite hand you usually do. Or trying taking a new route to the store on the same day you always do your grocery shopping.
- Experience new things. Yes, we just talked about the power of routine. While routine is great for remembering the day to day, you don’t want to get in a rut. Attend a symphony performance you haven’t heard before, take up dance classes, meet new people, or take a trip somewhere different. New experiences give you new things to remember.
- Take care of your physical health. Talk to your doctor, physical therapist, or another trusted medical professional about how you can improve your approach to diet and exercise. Maybe you need to cut back on sodium, or take up swimming for joint pain. Even if it’s to address another medical issue, or just to feel healthier, physical improvements are also great for your brain, making you more able to remember information.
- Practice remembering. Try recalling events a year at a time. For example, where were you in 1968? Who were the people in your life? Who was president? What were some major political and cultural events? Where did you work? What kind of car did you drive? Bring as many details as possible to the forefront of your mind, starting with the most personal and moving out to the most global.
These strategies can all work together to improve your memory well into your senior years. Even if you are already showing signs of memory disorders, there is a possibility that these tips could slow your rate of memory loss. No matter your current state of memory function, approaching memory care proactively can make a big different in your quality of life.