Keep Your Memory Sharp with these 6 Simple Exercises

Woman thinking and trying to remember

You’re late for work, and now you can’t find your car keys. If only you could remember where you put them last night. You also seem to have forgotten the name of that lady that joined your book club two months ago when you saw her at the grocery store yesterday. Are these normal age-related memory glitches or a sign of dementia?

What’s Normal and What’s Not?

The Neurology team at LeBauer HealthCare in Greensboro, NC, has some simple guidelines for understanding symptoms that are indicators of dementia versus symptoms that are age-related memory changes. We’ve also included six ways you can help combat those age-related changes and keep your memory sharp.


Normal Age-Related Memory Changes Symptoms That Could Indicate Dementia
  • Not being able to remember the name of an acquaintance
  • Not recognizing or knowing the names of family members
  • Occasionally forgetting where you left things you use regularly, such as glasses or keys
  • Frequently losing or misplacing things
  • Not being able to remember details of a conversation or event that took place a year ago
  • Not being able to recall details of recent events or conversations
  • Occasionally have difficulty finding words
  • Frequent pauses and substitutions when finding words
  • You are worried about your memory but your relatives are not
  • Your relatives are worried about your memory, but you are not aware of any problems


6 Strategies to Keep Your Memory Sharp

There are things you can do to lower your risk of mental decline and improve or avoid age-related memory changes. Try these six tips to keep your memory sharp. 


1. Learn New Things

Challenging your brain to learn something new can lower your risk of mental decline. Learn a foreign language, take up a musical instrument, try a new craft, or undertake a different driving route to a place you visit frequently.

2. Repeat What You Want to Remember

When you want to remember something you just heard or read, try saying it out loud or writing it down. That will help reinforce the memory. For example, if you’ve just been introduced to someone new, repeat his or her name in your conversation. “So, Robert, are you new to the area?” 

3. Stay Social 

Regular social interaction can reduce your risk of memory problems. Invite friends to join you for lunch or coffee, join a club, or attend social events at your church. 

4. Get Plenty of Sleep

When you sleep, your brain forms and stores new memories so you can retrieve them later. Not getting enough sleep reduces the growth of new neurons and leads to problems with memory, concentration, and decision making. 

5. Exercise Regularly

A study in the Jan. 2019 issue of Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, showed that regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, cycling, or climbing stairs, can improve thinking skills in both older and younger adults. Another study, published in 2010, suggested that walking at least six miles per week could preserve brain size, and in turn, protect memory in old age.

6. Play Games that Involve Strategy

Games such as Scrabble, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and other puzzles provide mental exercise. Just as physical exercise can keep your body stronger, mental exercise can make your brain work better.


When to See a Doctor for Memory Loss

If your lapses in memory are getting more frequent or if you are concerned about memory loss, talk to your primary care doctor. He or she can determine if you need to see a neurologist for further evaluation. 

Neurologists can conduct testing to determine the extent and possible causes of memory loss. Some memory impairment can be caused by medications, a vitamin B12 deficiency, or other disorders that are reversible. Even if you have dementia, an early diagnosis can allow doctors to help you manage symptoms and plan for the future. 


Get Comprehensive Care from the LeBauer Neurology Team

The LeBauer Neurology team includes board-certified neurologists, a neuropsychologist, and a clinical social worker. They are able to assess memory disorders and dementia, provide individualized care plans, and link patients and families to support and resources. 

Our neurologists also provide advanced care for movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease; strokes; headaches; multiple sclerosis; ALS; epilepsy; and other neurological disorders. 

Learn more about our Neurology team or talk to your primary care physician about a referral.

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