You run into an old friend but can’t remember her name. It bothers you for the next few days until suddenly her name comes to mind. Is this memory lapse normal or is it something to be concerned about?
The good news is your weakening memory it is normal.
For an article I wrote for The Miami Herald, I spoke to experts about aging and memory. I learned that our memory, just like our muscles and bones, gets weaker over time.
A person’s ability to learn and recall newly presented information is half as good at age 70 as 35, explains Philip D. Harvey, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t sharpen our memory. So, how do we do that?
Certain vitamins and fatty acids have been said to slow or prevent memory loss such as vitamin B-12 and herbal supplements such as ginkgo biloba, and omega-3 fatty acids. But none of them have been scientifically proven to have any benefit on memory.
Medical experts say the best way to keep your memory sharp is a brain-healthy lifestyle: moderate physical exercise as well as a Mediterranean-like diet rich in fruits and vegetables and healthy oils — and no excess fats, sugars, red meat and processed foods. They also advise staying active mentally and socially doing things that bring you joy, meaning and purpose.
Here are some more strategies offered by Shulamit Assif, an international expert in memory and learning techniques:
*A strategy to remember where you put your car keys, or a person’s name or an important date is to associate it with one of your senses or an emotion.
*Avoid stressing over what you can’t remember. It’s when you relax that the fleeting memory often returns.
* Keep your brain challenged with crossword puzzles, card games, and mind stimulation games
* Limit distractions and don’t do too many things at once.
* Get adequate sleep
*Repeat things out loud such as where you are putting something or who you are meeting.
Here’s are 3 tips that Oprah shared on her website:
- Create a mental image that helps you remember. Say you need eggs, pasta, and broccoli: Visualize a cracked egg falling on some pasta wrapped around a broccoli stalk.
- Review your day every morning at the same time and place
- When you’re introduced to someone, think focus—remind yourself to fight the distraction of what’s going on around you and pay attention.
It seems like all of us have so much on our minds and so many distractions. I find myself writing things down so I don’t forget them. It’s been pretty comforting to see my friends doing it too!