The memories that we have are what make us who we are. So to lose that, makes many people feel as if they’ve lost a part of themselves. And to be lost to yourself can be a terribly upsetting experience.
That’s why – when people start noticing that they’re forgetting things – it can make them clam up. They begin to wonder if what’s going on is just part of ordinary forgetfulness or if it’s something more insidious.
Normal Versus Age-Related Forgetfulness
It’s perfectly normal to forget things sometimes. You can read through the following list of forgetfulness that most people experience. Forgetting situations or facts relating to situations is normal.
Even if that forgetfulness happened right after you got the information. This is why some students can learn something new in class and the next day, can’t remember certain details about what they were taught.
Your brain is not like a computer. You can’t give it detail after detail and expect it to store it all. Your brain does clear memories – especially if it thinks those memories aren’t crucial.
Being absentminded is also something that’s not a reason to worry. Everyone also experiences this kind of forgetfulness. Your brain carries a lot of information and it will prioritize whatever you make a point of making important to remember. So if you don’t really pay attention to something, your brain doesn’t absorb that information.
For example, when you to the doctor, you might get an appointment card for the time of your next visit three months down the road. If you lose the card, you probably won’t remember when you’re supposed to be at that doctor’s office.
That’s because your brain knew it didn’t have to hold on to that information. You didn’t make it a point of importance to your brain because you were relying on the fact that you had the card.
Blanking is another type of normal forgetfulness. This is when the information is on the cusp of your memory, but you can’t seem to get to it. This happens a lot when you have other memories that are almost identical to the one that you’re trying to grasp.
You might experience this when you’re trying to remember someone’s name or recall who said what during a prior conversation. When your mind blanks while you’re trying to remember something, this is no cause for alarm and it’s not a long-term problem. Most people usually end up remembering exactly what they were looking for.
Getting the details wrong is another form of forgetfulness that’s normal. This is why someone can be telling a story and say, “We were over on Main Street” only to be interrupted by a friend or loved one and be corrected about the street name.
It’s why two people can be in the same situation or take part in the same event and when both people recall these memories later, they’ll both have a different account and both will believe that they’re correct.
Warning signs that forgetfulness may be related to aging are varied. The person can’t seem to remember familiar places, people or items. They get lost easily in their own area such as in their neighborhood.
They drive off to run an errand and can’t recall how to get back to their home. Or they can’t remember how to drive to a business they’ve always been able to drive to before.
Age-related forgetfulness can also manifest itself in forgetting to pay bills when the person has always been so careful before. Watch for changes in an older person’s mood.
If they were always even tempered before, but suddenly develop a raging temper, then that can be a sign of age-related forgetfulness. If someone can’t seem to follow simple directions or exhibits poor judgment-making skills, this can be a sign that something’s not right with his or her memory.
Foods That Power Up and Protect Your Memory
To keep healthy, you want to make sure that you’re eating a well rounded meal plan every day. Include foods from all of the food groups. There are some foods that you’ll want to watch out for – and some that you’ll want to have plenty of because they help boost your memory.
Foods that you will want to keep a close eye on are the ones that have a lot of saturated fat. This type of fat has been connected to studies involving Alzheimer’s Disease.
While you do need fats in your diet, you want to make sure that those fats work to promote memory retention rather than work to tear it down. It might surprise you to learn that many oil based salad dressings can help to stimulate the brain and protect your memory.
That’s because these kinds of salad dressings have a rich supply of the important vitamin E, which has long been known to keep the memory in good shape. It does this because it works to protect the nerve cells in the brain from decline.
In every healthy eating plan, you’ll notice that they mention eating plenty of dark green leafy vegetables. There’s a good reason for this suggestion. Like the oil based salad dressings, these vegetables also contain vitamin E – but they have an extra nutrient that can help your memory.
Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in folate. Many people already know that folate fights against birth defects as well as diseases relating to the heart. But you might not know what it can do for the brain.
Plenty of research shows that consuming plenty of folate rich foods can not only slow the toll that aging can take on the brain, but it also improves memory. If you’re a fan of beans, then you’re in luck.
Beans contain choline. This nutrient is one that’s needed to amp up the memory function of the brain. They also lower the blood pressure. The reason that this is important is because high blood pressure has been linked to vascular dementia.
This occurs because the blood supply to the brain isn’t what it should be when you have high blood pressure. Your brain gets damaged from high blood pressure and almost half of all age-related dementia can be traced back to vascular dementia. So make sure that you get plenty of beans in your diet.
Though not many people care for them, beets are a power food that has a lot of nutrients to help your memory. These vegetables are full of nitrates, which can give you an improvement in concentration and focus.
Nitrates dilate blood vessels. This dilation helps give you greater blood flow within your body – and that includes to the brain. Plus, they can also lower blood pressure.
Shrimp is another food that can help you with your memory. Shrimp contains a lot of B12 and omega 3, both of which improve memory function in the brain. Shrimp is also used topically in some anti aging treatments.
Play Games to Retain and Strengthen Your Memories
Getting older can automatically cause a decline in the brain’s skills, especially in the memory department – but you can fight back against this by having fun. Mental exercises done through games can strengthen your memory the same way that physical exercise strengthens your muscles.
You have to stimulate your brain to keep it active so that you don’t lose memory retention. This is one reason that when some people retire, they can experience a decline in mental function.
Their brain isn’t being stimulated the way that it once was. You’ll want to look for games that challenge your brain and not something that you can just mindlessly play.
As soon as you do master a game, you’ll want to move on to a new one or a next level – to keep the challenge level high. Look for games that require you to do a lot of thinking.
Having to come up with a strategy to beat a game engages your brain even after you’ve stopped playing the game. Some good games that you can do are things that are like puzzles.
Sudoku is a great example of this. This puzzle can have nine squares and in those nine squares, there are smaller squares. Random numbers are already present within these smaller squares.
Based on the numbers that are present, you have to figure out which numbers then go in the blank squares. This is an excellent brain game because studies have shown that puzzles combined with numbers do stimulate the brain.
Solving 3D puzzles can also give your brain a memory boost. A puzzle like Rubik’s Cube can keep your brain stimulated for hours. Memory matching games like Mahjongg are also helpful.
In this game, you have to find the matching pairs that are free. But you have to be careful – because if you free the wrong pairs, you won’t be able to eliminate all of them.
Card games that require you to use reasoning are also good. You’ll find ones like solitaire or spider solitaire online. Also, search for crossword puzzles to do. You have to engage in playing brain games regularly in order to get the most benefit from them for your memory.
It’s not just handheld games or online games that can challenge your brain that can improve your memory. Playing video games can stimulate the cognitive control and when this is stimulated, it helps improve memory function.
While you might think that playing video games is only for young people, studies have shown some amazing results when older people play these games. In fact, studies have shown that playing certain video games can improve memory skills.
But that’s not the only good news. Playing video games specifically intended to boost the memory skills can actually combat memory loss that’s already happened.
By playing the video games that stimulate certain portions of the brain, those experiencing memory loss can actually see a reversal in their symptoms. So if you’ve been having trouble with memory loss, get started playing those video games.
Not only will you improve your memory, but you’ll gain a new skill that you can share with your grandchildren. If you can find the games that involve standing and exercise, like Wii or Kinect, you’ll get other health benefits, too.
Exercising to Keep Your Brain Functioning in Great Shape
Aging can bring on cognitive decline with memory function and you don’t have to be a senior citizen for this decline to begin. But there are ways that you can keep your brain in top shape and keep your memory function healthy.
The cerebral cortex is instrumental in memory function and not all of it takes place in the same location of the brain. The frontal lobe part of your cerebral cortex is what’s responsible for both the long term as well as the short term memory storage.
But other parts of your brain also play important parts and each cognitive part of memory function is further divided in other portions. This is why you have to keep your brain stimulated as a whole.
Exercise that you can do to strengthen your body will also strengthen the cells in your brain. These cells are what handle the memory areas located in various places inside your brain.
Working out has a positive molecular effect on your brain. All it takes is 20 to 30 minutes of exercise to stimulate your brain and to improve your brain’s ability to retain memory function.
Exercising causes several good things to go on inside your body and inside your brain. When you exercise, you’re improving your muscle tone, your heart health and you feel better.
But besides that, your body goes to work producing all sorts of hormones. These hormones are what then turn around and help the function of your brain cells. Not only does it help the function of the brain cells that you currently have, but exercise also promotes the growth of new ones.
If you exercise at least twenty minutes every day, you can vastly improve your brain’s ability to hold onto its ability to keep the memory banks in good working order.
Increase Your Learning and Keep More of Your Memories
Mental stimulation is what helps you keep your brain working the way that it should. To keep your brain’s memory function working well, you have to give it plenty of activity to think about or do.
Neurons in your brain are what are linked to keeping the cells in the brain healthy. In order to be healthy, your brain needs BDNF or brain derived neurotrophic factor.
This is a protein. The function or job of this protein is to grow and keep the brain’s nerve cells healthy. Without this crucial protein functioning the way that it should, you experience memory loss as well as other brain function loss.
Learning is a form of exercise for your brain. It doesn’t matter what you’re learning. All forms of learning are stimulating to the brain. You can gain valuable memory boosts from learning a new skill or picking up a hobby that you’ve always wanted to try.
When they get older, some people take classes on subjects they’ve always wanted to learn but didn’t have time to take when they were younger. Learning a new language can help stimulate the portion of the brain that controls verbal memories.
You can join a gardening club and combine your enjoyment of gardening with learning more about it. At the same time, you’ll be getting exercise while working in the garden.
Plus, you’ll have valuable social interaction. All of these work to help the brain improve any age-related memory issues. If you’ve always wanted to go back to school and get a college degree or to try a few classes, then ago ahead and do it.
While you’re learning, you’ll also be improving your memory. The key to keeping your brain’s memory healthy is to stay as mentally and physically active as you possibly can.