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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Concerned about memory loss? 7 tips to improve your memory

Can't find your car keys? Forget what's on 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. Although there are no guarantees when it comes
to preventing memory loss or dementia, memory tricks can be helpful.
Consider seven simple ways to sharpen your memory — and know when
to seek help for memory loss.
No. 1: Stay mentally active
Just as physical activity helps keep your body in
shape, mentally
stimulating activities help keep your brain in shape — and perhaps keep
memory loss at bay. Do crossword puzzles. Read a section of the
newspaper that you normally skip. Take alternate routes when driving.
Learn to play a musical instrument. Volunteer at a local school or
community organization.
No. 2: Socialize regularly
Social interaction helps ward off depression and stress, both of which
can contribute to memory loss. Look for opportunities to get together
with loved ones, friends and others — especially if you live alone. When
you're invited to share a meal or attend an event, go!
No. 3: Get organized
You're more likely to forget things if your home is cluttered and your
notes are in disarray. Jot down tasks, appointments and other events in
a special notebook, calendar or electronic planner. You might even
repeat each entry out loud as you jot it down to help cement it in your
memory. Keep to-do lists current, and check off items you've
completed. Set aside a certain place for your wallet, keys and other
essentials.
No. 4: Focus
Limit distractions, and don't try to do too many things at once. If you
focus on the information that you're trying to remember, you'll be more
likely to recall it later. It might also help to connect what you're trying
to remember to a favorite song or another familiar concept.
No. 5: Eat a healthy diet
A heart-healthy diet may be as good for your brain as it is for your
heart. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose low-fat
protein sources, such as fish, lean meat and skinless poultry. What you
drink counts, too. Not enough water or too much alcohol can lead to
confusion and memory loss.
No. 6: Include physical activity in your daily routine
Physical activity increases blood flow to your whole body, including
your brain. This may help keep your memory sharp. For most healthy
adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at
least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (think brisk
walking) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity (such as
jogging) — preferably spread throughout the week. If you don't have
time for a full workout, squeeze in a few 10-minute walks throughout
the day.
No. 7: Manage chronic conditions
Follow your doctor's treatment recommendations for any chronic
conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. The
better you take care of yourself, the better your memory is likely to be.
In addition, review your medications with your doctor regularly. Various
medications can impact memory.
When to seek help for memory loss
If you're worried about memory loss — especially if memory loss affects
your ability to complete your usual daily activities — consult your
doctor. He or she will likely do a physical exam, as well as check your
memory and problem-solving skills. Sometimes other tests are needed
as well. Treatment will depend on what's contributing to the memory
loss.
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