It’s a normal part of aging to become a bit more forgetful as we grow older. In the past, it was widely believed that little could be done to strengthen our memory and mental agility once we had entered adulthood.
However, research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, and other notable institutions has found that the connections in our brains are “plastic” and new neural pathways are being created all of the time!
Try these activities to strengthen your memory:
1. Play games. Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and other word games have been shown to strengthen our mental functioning and memory because they stimulate the growth of new neural pathways. For best results, play games for a few minutes each day.
2. Add rhythm. Use rhyming words or turn information you wish to memorize into a song. The data will be easier to recall later because you’re using more than one of your senses to encode the memory.
- Using auditory processing isn’t the only way to improve your memory. It’s also possible to make information easier to recall by adding movement, or kinetic processing, when you are memorizing information.
- Creating an acronym from a list of words that you are trying to memorize also makes it easier to remember the items on the list.
3. Practice the ancient art of Loci. The Romans and Greeks of the ancient world used Loci to aid their memorization.
- Loci are locations that the user is familiar with, such as their home or a path they walk frequently. Just associate the items that you need to memorize with familiar objects in your home or pathway and you’ll have greater recall of those items.
4. Break larger bits of information into chunks. If you need to remember a long passage or a large number with multiple digits, try breaking this information into smaller chunks and memorizing it one chunk at a time.
5. Learn something new. Our memories are like a muscle: the more that you exercise them, the more they improve. Learning a new skill or hobby that requires concentration, such as a foreign language or how to crochet, can help boost your overall memory.
6. Get plenty of sleep. Research shows that our ability to remember and recall things is greatly impaired when we are tired or under a lot of stress. Get plenty of rest and relax before you try to memorize information that you want to recall later.
7. Be aware of what you’re doing. If you’re constantly forgetting where you placed items such as your keys or purse, you may be distracted. It’s easier to remember things when you’re fully focused on your actions.
- When you focus on where you’re placing your keys or other item, try saying what you are doing out loud. For example, say “I am placing my keys on the nightstand,” as you do it.
It can be very scary to discover that your memory is not quite as sharp as it used to be. These tips can help you sharpen your memory regardless of your age.