Forgetting things is a fact of aging - everyone will experience some loss of cognitive ability as they grow older. But just like a healthy lifestyle can help prevent chronic physical illnesses, it can also help prevent age related memory loss.
Here are some memory exercises for seniors to consider:
1.) Play games. Word searches, Sudoku and crossword puzzles are all great ways to challenge yourself and keep your brain active. These games can be found in bookstores or for free online.
2.) Practice memorization. Making your brain regularly try to recall information – your grocery list, for example – strengthens your ability to make memory connections. This is an invaluable skill to have honed as you age. A tip to help you remember is to associate things that you want to remember with things that you won’t forget. One woman had problems with forgetting a new neighbor’s name. She thought of a word or image that would help her remember. The neighbor’s name is Lisa and she always makes her laugh. She thought about the show “I Love Lucy” and this helps her to remember.
3.) Physical Exercise. Physical exercise is not just good for your heart - it’s good for your brain as well. A number of studies have shown that regular exercise protects the brain by bringing more oxygen to the brain and promoting the growth of new blood vessels.
4.) Learn something new. Take a language course, pick up cooking or try out an art class. Preventing boredom and challenging your brain are ways to keep your brain active and healthy. Like any muscle, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Try to limit passive activities like watching TV.
5.) Socialize. Having a strong circle of friends or a tight-knit family can be very important in preventing age-related memory loss. There are a number of theories of why this is so, but one thought is that those with opportunities to socialize participate in activities with others, such as taking a walk or playing card games, that keep them healthy and engaged. For seniors who are unable to leave their house on their own, consider enrolling in a day program which offers socialization and activities.
6.) Relax! Stress and anxiety impair the brain’s ability to think clearly. Take time for yourself daily and do something that you enjoy.