• Many worry about memory loss as they get older, which is a reasonable concern, considering a large percentage of adults lose their memory as they age.
  • Fortunately, though, we can take preventative measures: first, it’s important we maintain a strong social network and prioritize time with other people.
  • Additionally, we should continue to exercise the brain with games and puzzles as we age, as well as listen to music to boost our memory.
  • In addition to exercising your brain, exercise your body; research shows that exercise (aerobic exercise, in specific) has a positive effect on memory.
  • On that note, do your best to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet as well, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
  • Finally, if you do experience concerning lapses in memory, meet with your health care provider as soon as possible. 

A major concern that comes with aging is memory loss. This is a reasonable concern, especially considering recent statistics: 1 in 9 US adults over age 45 report memory issues; 40% of US adults 65 and older have age associated memory impairment; and 20% of people over the age of 70 have mild cognitive impairment. These aren’t great odds. In other words, there’s a good chance you or I will suffer from memory loss as we get older. The good news, though, is we can take steps now to ward off memory loss and preserve our minds.  Dr. Sal Raichbach PsyD at Ambrosia Treatment Center explains that while sometimes memory loss is inevitable, we can often take matters into our own hands. “You can’t always prevent memory loss from happening, but there are things you can do to help slow it down,” he says. “The best way to keep yourself sharp is to continue engaging your brain. Socializing with friends, doing puzzles, and even listening to music can help you stay sharp. Studies show that older people who are active and social have lower rates of dementia and memory-related issues. Even spending some time on the phone with a friend can be helpful. The goal is to avoid isolation. Eating right, exercising, and getting adequate sleep are also crucial to brain function. Just like any other organ, the brain is affected by what you put into it. Changing your diet and going on a short walk outside can make a huge difference in how well your mind can perform tasks that rely on short-term memory.” Let’s break down his preventative tips and explore their validity:

1. Socialize.

Many experts now believe that socializing is important to maintaining our brain health and shielding ourselves from diseases like Alzheimer’s. For example, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that participants with the larger social networks were 26% less likely to develop dementia than those with smaller social groups. So, expand your social circles and prioritize time with others.

2. Exercise your brain.

Research suggests that keeping our brains active can prevent memory decline as well. One study tasked participants aged 65 and older with performing 10-hours of brain-training for five to six weeks. Those who completed the training showed improvement in thinking and memory skills for at least five years following the study. You can exercise your brain by doing crosswords, working on puzzles, or even playing video games. 

3. Listen to music.

Music is known to bring back memories, as listening to and even performing music reactivates certain areas of the brain involved with memory recall. But did you know that music can help us form new memories too? Two recent studies found that participants performed better on memory tests after they completed several classes in which they exercised while listening to music. This is an easy task to incorporate into your day—if you aren’t already, start listening to music in the car, at work, or while you’re working out. 

4. Stay active.

Exercising, as mentioned previously, is another preventative tip. A study from the University of British Columbia showed that regular aerobic exercise in specific can increase the size of your hippocampus, which is an area of the brain involved with verbal memory and learning. Examples of aerobic exercise include brisk walking, dancing, playing tennis, and riding a bike. 

5. Eat right.

Studies have shown that certain foods can boost memory, while others can increase your risk for memory loss and diseases like Alzheimer’s. So, make it your mission to eat right. In other words, eat plenty of healthy fats, fruits, veggies, and protein. Also, try to limit consumption of white breads, pasta, and anything highly processed. 

6. Rest.

Your sleep quality and quantity can either have a positive or negative impact on your memory. As you can probably guess, if you don’t get enough sleep your memory can become impaired. On the other hand, good sleep hygiene can help you form new memories and recall them in the future. Make sure you’re meeting the sleep guidelines for your age group. This is likely at least 7 hours of sleep a night. It’s normal to forget where you put your keys down or whether you took your vitamins today. But if your memory loss becomes more severe—say you forget entire conversations or have a hard time completing routine tasks—you should see your healthcare provider.