As with the rest of your body, the brain needs to be exercised in order to stay sharp and focused. Most middle-aged and older adults are aware that their memories are perhaps not what they used to be, and more frequent lapses in memory during simple tasks, jokingly called “senior moments,” happen to everyone as they get older. Your brain ages along with the rest of your body, which is why recent and short-term memory suffers more as you age compared to long-term memory, and it takes longer to acquire and remember new information.
Changes in your memory can be frustrating as you age, but such normal changes do not need to interfere with daily living. Here are five methods you can employ on a daily basis to keep your brain in shape and your memory sharp.
ACTIVELY OBSERVE and think about what you want to remember. Use all of your senses. Being active in learning information heightens your abilities to look at details more closely, smell, touch and listen more carefully. In other words, pay attention to what or who you want to remember.
ASSOCIATE or link what you want to remember with what you already know. For example, if you meet a new person named Barbara, think about someone you knew in the past named Barbara. You may learn that Barbara is from Boston or owns a poodle or loves to cook. Associate the information you learn about Barbara to other learned memories as this will link the new information and become more meaningful.
VISUALIZE a picture in your mind of what you want to remember. Using the example of meeting Barbara, build upon that by visualizing Barbara from Boston cooking a lobster. Sometimes using whacky or fantastical images create the most robust memories, but for most people, it will require some practice as we tend to be very logical and serious as adults.
ACTIVELY THINK and expand on the details that you want to remember. The more details you can gain by listening and asking questions will add more meaning and will likely be remembered.
PRACTICE these or other strategies on a daily basis and you will find that your memory for names and words will improve.
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