Be the master of your own memory in 6 simple steps
The number one tip for maintaining your memory? Exercise. It may seem that your muscles are a long way from your brain, but studies have shown that exercise improves short- and longterm memory, aiding the development of new brain cells and increasing the size of the hippocampus, where verbal memory and learning happen. One study even suggested that if you want to remember something, you should exercise four hours after learning it.
LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
Studies have shown that people who speak more than one language have an added layer of protection against memory loss. Feldman Barrett says that exerting yourself periodically in a challenging task — whether it’s exercising past the point of mental comfort or learning something complex that causes you to push yourself — may help your brain build new connections and also maintain the health of the old ones.
PICK UP A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT
A study from Baycrest Health Sciences published earlier this year found that when older adults were given the task of replicating a sound on a musical instrument, it altered their brain waves to improve their listening skills. Evidence shows that learning a musical instrument can help to rewire the brain.
EAT A BALANCED DIET
Rylett says researchers are beginning to learn that insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are connected to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, so it’s important to keep blood sugar stable. Taking care of your heart health with a diet rich in fibre and healthy fats is also key. Some cases of dementia are caused by changes in blood vessels that prevent proper blood flow to the mind, depriving it of necessary nutrients and oxygen. The symptoms of this vascular cognitive impairment can look a lot like Alzheimer’s.
SEEK HELP FOR DEPRESSION
Khatri say people who experience untreated depression in midlife have twice the risk of developing dementia later in life, compared to those who do not share that untreated history. While depression and anxiety may seem insurmountable, she stresses that there are many treatments that can help. Dementia, on the other hand, is still incurable.
GIVE YOUR BRAIN TIME TO REST
Researchers are still learning about what’s going on in our minds while we snooze, but they do know that memories are strengthened overnight. Evidence shows that the brain replays information and experiences while we slumber, and transfers memories from short-term to long-term storage. That means that staying up until the wee hours to learn a presentation won’t get you ahead. Fighting sleep means fighting memory.