Can't find your car keys? Forget your grocery list? Can't remember the name of the personal trainer you liked at the gym? You're not alone. Everyone forgets things occasionally. Still, memory loss is nothing to take lightly.
Everyone has memory blips from time to time -- the word that's on the very tip of your tongue or the house keys that aren't where you swear you left them. As you get older, these kinds of slip-ups may happen more often. There is an area of your brain that can be exercised on a daily basis to prevent memory loss, memory fatigue and also keep your brain sharp. At Neuro Athletics, we train this area of your brain during our sessions and what is fascinating to note is the changes and growth over a long period of time of doing these particular exercises.
So, why is it important to prevent memory loss and decline? Here are five reasons that we should all strive to improve our ability to remember:
1. Memorization is discipline for the mind—much needed in an age when so many minds are lazy, distracted, have little to think about, or think sloppily. Memorization helps train the mind to focus and be industrious.
2. No, you can’t always “Google it.” Sometimes you don’t have access to the Internet. Not everything of importance is on the web (and a great deal of irrelevant trash will accompany any search). Nor is looking up material helpful under such situations as when you learn to use a foreign language, must write or speak extemporaneously, or wish to be an expert.
3. Memorization creates the repertoire of what we think about. Nobody can think in a vacuum of information. To be an expert in any field requires knowledge that you already have.
4. We think with the ideas held in working memory, which can only be accessed at high speed from the brain’s stored memory. Understanding is nourished by the information you hold in working memory as you think. Without such knowledge, we have a mind full of mush.
5. The exercise of the memory develops learning and memory schemathat promote improved ability to learn. The more you remember, the more you can learn.
Memory Loss Related to Emotional Problems
Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, can make a person more forgetful and can be mistaken for dementia. For instance, someone who has recently retired or who is coping with the death of a spouse, relative, or friend may feel sad, lonely, worried, or bored. Trying to deal with these life changes leaves some people feeling confused or forgetful.
The confusion and forgetfulness caused by emotions usually are temporary and go away when the feelings fade. Emotional problems can be eased by supportive friends and family, but if these feelings last for more than 2 weeks, it is important to get help from a doctor or counselor. Treatment may include counseling, medication, or both. Being active and learning new skills can also help a person feel better and improve his or her memory.
You don't have to resign yourself to memory loss. These simple steps can help keep your brain sharp:
1. Keep learning
A higher level of education is associated with better mental functioning in old age. Experts think that advanced education may help keep memory strong by getting a person into the habit of being mentally active. Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them. Many people have jobs that keep them mentally active, but pursuing a hobby or learning a new skill can function the same way. Read; join a book group; play chess or bridge; write your life story; do crossword or jigsaw puzzles; take a class; pursue music or art; design a new garden layout. At work, propose or volunteer for a project that involves a skill you don't usually use. Building and preserving brain connections is an ongoing process, so make lifelong learning a priority.
2. Economize your brain use
If you don't need to use mental energy remembering where you laid your keys or the time of your granddaughter's birthday party, you'll be better able to concentrate on learning and remembering new and important things. Take advantage of calendars and planners, maps, shopping lists, file folders, and address books to keep routine information accessible. Designate a place at home for your glasses, purse, keys, and other items you use often. Remove clutter from your office or home to minimize distractions, so you can focus on new information that you want to remember.
3. Exercise your mind
Research shows that the old adage “use it or lose it” applies to your mental power as much as to the rest of your body. Crossword puzzles, mind games, and challenging reading or educational classes can all help you keep your brain agile and strong.
4. Avoid trans fats:
Trans fats are adulterated fats found in processed foods that contribute to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and other diseases.
Trans fats harm the brain in several ways.
They cause inflammation, promote free radical damage, compromise cell membrane integrity, and inhibit the production of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
Regular trans fat consumption not only takes a toll on your memory, but increases your risk of depression by up to 50%.
Trans fats are such a health hazard that some countries have banned them and the US will soon follow suit.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had mandated that food manufacturers get them out of processed foods, baked goods, snacks, and fast food by June of 2018, but recently extended this date to January of 2020.
Three Nutritional Supplements
Take a daily multivitamin that provides adequate levels of folic acid and other B vitamins. They help the body get rid of homocysteine, a toxic amino acid formed by the breakdown of animal protein that has been linked to heart attack and stroke, and more recently with increased risks of Alzheimer’s. These supplements are also linked to healthy cognitive function:
Ginkgo biloba – Increases circulation to the brain. Provides memory enhancing effects.
DHA – One of the omega-3 fatty acids essential for normal brain development and function.
A vision support formula – Providing antioxidants, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin.