Keep Your Memory Sharp
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Many things can affect memory—being too busy, aging, stress, illness, and certain medicines. But you can take steps to sharpen your mind and memory.
Challenge Your Brain
Your brain is like your body. It needs exercise to stay in shape. Keep learning and challenging your brain. Here are some ways to get more mental exercise:
Use Memory Aids
There is no need to remember every detail on your own. Use:
Live a Healthy Life
Many actions that keep your body strong will do the same for your mind. For example:
Do Regular Physical Activity
Regular physical activity increases blood flow to the brain. It also lowers the risk of certain diseases that can affect memory. Even moderate physical activity may help. Examples of moderate activities are:
On a daily basis, try to set aside 30 minutes for physical activity. You can also break up the 30 minutes. You could do three 10-minute sessions instead.
It can be tough to remember things when your mind is cluttered. Make time for relaxation. Choose activities that calm you down. Try listening to soothing music, meditation, or yoga. Deep breathing is also a good choice. Make them part of your daily routine.
Talk to your doctor about the medicines that you take. There may be some that can affect your memory. See if they can be changed, limited or stopped. Healthy habits may lower the need for certain drugs.
Talk to Your Doctor About Herbs and Supplements
Poor nutrition can impair your mental function. For example, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a range of symptoms, including confusion. It is important to eat a well balanced diet. This includes plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean proteins. If you have questions, speak to a dietitian. Your doctor can give a referral if you need one.
Talk to your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements. They may interact with other medicines you are taking.
Manage Other Health Problems
High blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease can interfere with mental function. Many of the lifestyle steps discussed here can help manage these conditions. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and ease stress. Be sure to follow your doctor's advice for your condition.
Another way to protect your brain is to prevent injuries. Falls and accidents can lead to concussions or more severe head injuries. Head injuries can affect brain function. Here are some ways to reduce your risk of injury:
Some changes are not easy. You may not like doing some of them. Start slowly and choose activities that interest you. Changes are also easier if you have a friend who comes a long with you.
Mental Health America
Canadian Mental Health Association
Mental Health Canada
Enhancing memory and mental function. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: https://www.ebsco.com/products/research-databases/natural-alternative-treatments. Accessed June 10, 2021.
Enhance your memory. American Psychological Association website. Available at: https://www.apa.org/topics/learning-memory/enhance-memory. Accessed June 10, 2021.
Exercise may lower the risk of cognitive decline. Alzheimer's Association website. Available at: https://www.alz.org/news/2020/a-mental-workout. Accessed June 10, 2021.
Important facts about falls. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
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Accessed June 10, 2021.
Mild cognitive impairment. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/mild-cognitive-impairment-mci. Accessed June 10, 2021.
Last reviewed June 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 6/10/2021
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