Many health conditions can lead to memory loss, particularly in older adults. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are among the most common causes of poor memory.
However, your memory can also be affected by:
- multiple sclerosis
- a head injury
- vitamin deficiencies
- thyroid problems
Even if you can remember events that happened many years ago, it becomes harder for your brain to retain new memories as you age.
Fortunately, a number of techniques can help you improve your memory. These techniques are sometimes known as “memory aids training.”
Activities and games that stimulate your mind can help improve your memory. The following activities can help keep your mind active:
- Talk to friends and family members to stay mentally engaged, especially if you live alone. Explain your memory problems to them and suggest ways that they can help.
- Spend more time reading if you have difficulty remembering words. If you come to a word you don’t know, look it up in the dictionary right away before reading further.
- Challenge yourself with crossword puzzles and board games. These types of activities help activate nerve cells in your brain. This becomes even more important as you age.
- Try playing a video game. Some games feature logic and word puzzles that are designed to challenge your mind.
Keeping things organized can help fight forgetfulness. If you know where to find the items you need each day, you’ll be less likely to lose them. These tips can help:
- Have a permanent spot for important items like your keys, purse, wallet, and medications. Place each item back in its spot right after using it.
- Write daily lists of things to do or have a family member or friend help you write lists, if necessary. Check off each item as you complete it so that you’ll remember what you’ve done.
- Remove items from your living space that you don’t need. Having too much clutter can be distracting and may make you lose your mental focus.
Too many changes in your schedule can confuse you if you have memory problems. A regular routine can make you feel more secure. It can also help you remember what you’re going to do and what you’ve done each day. Here are some techniques to try:
- Develop daily habits that are easy to follow. Stick to these routines by doing activities at the same time each day.
- Use clocks, watches, and calendars to help you keep track of the time and date.
- Write down activities and appointments in an organizer or calendar. You can use either a paper or electronic planner for this purpose.
- Keep paper planners in a place that’s easy to see, such as in the kitchen or by your bed. Keep electronic planners open on your computer.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, if you’re tired, anxious, stressed, or depressed, you will find it even harder to remember things. Take the time to practice these healthy habits:
- Don’t rush through activities and don’t let others rush you. Take the time you need to complete each task at your own pace.
- Exercise. Stay physically active by walking up to 30 minutes a day to help your memory.
- Drink less alcohol. Alcohol can negatively affect your memory.
- Avoid stress when possible. Noise, bustle, and multitasking can affect your concentration and make it harder to remember things.
Written instructions can help jog your memory if you use them regularly. Here are some ways to use written reminders:
- Place labels on household items to help you remember what you need to know. For example:
- Label drawers to describe what is in them.
- Place often-called phone numbers by the phone.
- Label doors and windows with reminders to open or close them.
- Place a note near the stove to remind you to turn it on or off.
- Label pictures of people who you see often to remind you of their names.
- Ask a loved one to call you with reminders about things you need to do, places you need to go, or medicines you need to take.