Strategies For Improving Your Memory – Advice For Elderly Australians
Do you worry about your memory?
Are you wondering what you can do about it and looking for some ways to improve your memory?
Most of us worry from time to time whether our memory lapses are something we need to be concerned about.
Memory involves acquiring, storing and recalling information and images and it is who we are. Short-term memory is more likely to decline with age, whereas long-term memory is more resilient and can become clearer with age.
Age-related cognitive decline is normal, but dementia is not a normal part of ageing and most older people will not develop dementia.
Factors that affect memory loss include stress, anxiety, pain, grief, certain medications and fatigue. Some medical conditions such as hormone changes, nutritional deficiencies, dehydration, depression, liver and kidney disease and sensory loss can have an effect on our memory.
Ways to improve your memory require us to look after our brains, bodies and hearts – and earlier in life is better than later.
Here are some strategies to work on:
- Concentration – develop a habit of paying closer attention.
- Repetition – repeat and rehearse what you want to remember.
- Don’t overload the brain but rather work on one set of information at a time.
- Break up lists of tasks or names into sub-groups rather than leaving items on a long list.
- Take a mental picture and envisage, for example, where your car is parked.
- Visualise what you are trying to remember, such as where the items in the supermarket are kept.
- Make associations using rhymes, colours and shapes.
Maintaining a routine lessens the load on memory and planning ahead is important. You can do this by writing lists, using a whiteboard or a diary for birthdays and appointments, and organising important things in places where they can be found easily, such as car keys.
Challenge your brain
We all need to challenge our brains, be socially active, get regular physical activity and eat a healthy diet. We can do all of these together and they are effective ways to improve your memory.
The brain has the ability to re-organise itself and build new connections. Learn a new language, play cards or chess, do a course to learn a new skill, go to the theatre, read different books or even learn to play a musical instrument. Who said you can’t have fun strategies for improving your memory!
Be physically active by walking, playing table tennis or joining a dancing class. Swimming, hydrotherapy and cycling are good ways of exercising if you have sore hips or knees. Doing weights or learning how to use the equipment in a gym is a good way of using your brain and getting physically active at the same time. There are numerous ways to keep our brain and body active, but you should always find things you enjoy and will stick to.
Getting out and socialising helps to keep the mind active by way of meeting new people (learning names can be a work-out for your memory), or you could attend games nights, get involved in volunteer groups or join a class to learn something new.
When we visit our elderly relatives, try to work some activity into your visit by taking them out for a walk, playing cards or chess with them to stimulate their brains, or taking them out for dinner or to the theatre to help them socialise.
How can physiotherapists help?
Keeping seniors mobile, safe and happy is what we’re all about here at The Physio Co. We work closely with our senior clients (and their families) to ensure they stay as active as possible, including providing exercise programs that help stimulate their brains.
Article written by Karleen Scott (team leader/physiotherapist – Team South Australia)