A strong memory depends on the health and vitality of the brain. There are a number of ways to exercise the brain that will improve both memory and mental performance, and these strategies can serve to help an aging brain keep its edge longer or even aid in slowing the progression of conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's.
- Repetition works wonders.
Repetition is a great way to remember things in the moment, but it also helps to improve short term and long term memory. Repeating important information is one way to imprint the information in your memory by carving more long-lasting pathways in the brain.
- Use mnemonic devices.
Use creative strategies, like associated pictures, words, or phrases, to help remember things, such as names and dates. The visualization helps to make the information stick.
- Indulge in relaxation techniques.
Yoga, as well as other relaxation practices, has been proven to help improve memory. Yoga also helps increase the flow of oxygen to the brain, which will help improve brain function.
- Playing games helps keep the brain active.
Games can help improve both short term and long term memory. Puzzles, word games, and picture memory games are all good ways to keep the brain active and engaged.
- Rehearse aloud.
If you need to remember a speech, a shopping list, or just what you need to do next, repeat the information aloud. When your mind hears your own voice speaking instructions or information aloud, it remembers it better.
- Teach someone else.
To keep your memory muscles strong, teach someone else the skills that you don't want to forget. This effort is socially engaging, involves repetition, and requires you to stay sharp on answers to the students' inevitable questions.
- Add activity when studying or rehearsing.
Simultaneous movement while learning can strengthen your ability to remember the information. Walking around or bouncing a ball while studying can help.
- Take up a new hobby or class.
Just as a body in motion stays in motion, your brain remains more responsive if you challenge it to learn new things.
- Participate in cognitive rehab therapy (CRT).
CRT is very valuable to anyone who has suffered a brain injury or who is experiencing forms of dementia or Alzheimer's. Cognitive rehab therapy can help you focus on the awareness of what is happening to your brain. It also supports you in the process of maintaining and relearning skills. It can also aid in teaching you new skills to compensate for any skills that cannot be relearned.
Throughout the therapy process, you should expect to meet with speech pathologists, occupational therapists. and even physical therapists. The Institute of Medicines states that CRT is very valuable to those with memory issues because it enhances brain function and gives those who suffer from serious conditions more of their independence back.
If you have experienced a brain-damaging condition or injury, it is important to keep your edge for as long as possible. Utilize some (or all!) of these strategies in order to increase the chances of a more full recovery and for more time to enjoy your memories.