Enhance your memory: 10 fun ways to boost your brain

Enhance your memory: 10 fun ways to boost your brain

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Credit: Shutterstock

Have you ever gone into the kitchen and couldn't remember why? Are you having trouble recalling a familiar name during a conversation? If so, you’re not alone. Memory lapses can happen at any age, but short-term and long-term memory tends to worsen as people get older.

Is this the first sign of Alzheimer's? No, simple forgetfulness, such as misplacing your car keys or phones, as well as a delay or slowing in recalling dates, names, and events, can be part of the normal ageing process. What is not normal in older people is significant memory loss and loss of cognitive functioning. This could be due to health disorders, brain injury, or neurological illness, with Alzheimer's being one of the most feared.

The majority of memory problems we experience as we age are caused by normal changes in the structure and function of the brain that can slow specific cognitive processes. This makes it more difficult to learn new things quickly and interferes with our memory.

Thankfully, as neuroscientists learn more about this process of decline, they have discovered new ways to slow or even reverse it. Thanks to decades of research, there are several strategies we can use to protect and sharpen our minds. And these strategies don’t have to be boring! Here are 10 fun ways to boost your brain.



1. Smell rosemary from your garden
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Scientists have found that aromas can affect people's cognitive abilities. Credit: Shutterstock
Scientists have found that aromas can affect people's cognitive abilities. In a 2003 study, psychologists divided 144 volunteers into three groups and tested their long-term memory, working memory, attention, and reaction time. The results showed that those who smelled rosemary had better long-term and working memory than those who did not. In addition, the subjects stated that they felt more alert.

So, try putting a rosemary plant on your windowsill. If you don't have a rosemary plant, you can use rosemary essential oil in a diffuser in your home.

2. Eat a healthy diet
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Eating foods high in antioxidants keep your memory as young as you age Credits: Shutterstock
Scientists recommend eating foods high in antioxidants such as apples, dark green vegetables, blueberries, bananas, garlic, and carrots if you want to keep your memory young as you get older. Moreover, to keep an active brain that is able to repair itself and keep its neurons firing properly, you need to eat foods high in Omega-3. The brain is mostly composed of healthy fat, including the most important one, Omega-3 fatty acids. These are found in many types of fish and nuts.

Where’s the fun in that, you might ask? Well, your brain might like some dessert too. According to research, eating chocolate may improve memory and cognition because they’re packed with antioxidants called flavanols. However, don’t get too excited and eat too much as chocolates are full of sugar and saturated fat, so better choose healthier ones like dark chocolates as they’re found to improve blood flow to the brain.

3. Play brain games
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Playing brain games sharpens your memory, focus, and cognition. Credits: Shutterstock
Like our bodies, our brains need to ‘sweat’ to keep them in shape. According to studies, thinking hard sharpens your memory, focus, and cognition. So a few simple brain exercises can help stimulate your mind.

Working out your brain may seem like a tedious chore to some, but stimulating your brain can be fun, especially when brain games require more than one player. This way, you can exercise your brain while spending quality time with your loved ones.

Here are some brain-stimulating games to put your brain to the test and keep it performing at its best:​
  • Brain training apps​
  • Online puzzles​
  • Storytelling game​
  • Rubiks cube​
  • Card games​
  • Sudoku​
  • Chess​
  • Trivia​
4. Make reading a habit
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According to a study, regular reading later in life reduces the rate of memory decline by 32%. Credits: Shutterstock
Yes, indeed! I don't think you'll have any trouble with this one! One study found that regular reading and writing later in life reduced the rate of memory decline by 32%. So, members, keep reading our daily newsletters!

Apart from reading our newsletter and articles every day, here are some other great ways to make reading a fun and rewarding habit:​
  • Read to your grandchildren via Skype, FaceTime or in person.​
  • Read only what you enjoy i.e recipes​
  • Join or start a book club through your local library, bookstore, or church.​
  • Allot a time each day for reading​



5. Write frequently
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Studies show that writing by hand improves memory retention and comprehension. Credits: Shutterstock
Writing has been shown to improve memory and communication skills. It doesn't matter if you write by hand, on a computer, or your phone; expressing yourself will increase brain activity.

However, according to a study conducted by Pam Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles, writing by hand improves memory retention and comprehension. This is because handwriting has been linked to accessing specific areas of the brain.

This is great news for you lot who enjoy writing letters! Here are some creative writing exercises to get you started.​
  • Handwritten letters​
  • Emails​
  • Poetry​
  • Creative stories​
  • Cards​
Writing not only improves your memory but also allows you to connect with your loved ones! A win-win solution!

6. Exercise frequently
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Research has shown that older adults who walk regularly gain hippocampus volume. Credits: Shutterstock

And there goes the echoing sound of everyone's (ugh!) I know, I know, I hate working out too. But hear me out. Research has shown that exercise is not only good for your muscles and bones, but it’s also good for your brain. So, make this your motivation the next time you want to go for a walk or jog outside but lack motivation.

According to studies, the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning, shrinks with age. However, a 2011 study discovered that older adults who walk regularly gain hippocampus volume. Participants in the study, led by Arthur Kramer of the University of Illinois-Urbana Campaign, were divided into two groups: the first included 60 adults aged 55 to 80 who went on three 40-minute walks per week, while the other 60 participants did toning exercises like stretching, weight training, and yoga for the same amount of time.

The results show that after a year of toning, participants' anterior hippocampus lost a little more than 1% of its volume on average. A year of aerobic exercise resulted in a 2% increase in anterior hippocampus volume, reversing natural hippocampus ageing by about two years.

Scientists believe that these beneficial effects on the brain occur because exercise causes mild stress, which stimulates the production of growth factors in the brain. They could also be because walking leads to increased blood flow to the brain, resulting in a healthier mind.

Try incorporating some of these enjoyable physical activities into your daily or weekly routine to improve your memory and cognitive skills.
  • Walking your dog​
  • Yoga or tai chi​
  • Swimming​
  • Gardening activities​
  • Bicycle riding​


7. Learn a new hobby or skill
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Learning new skills can stimulate your mind, improving memory function in older adults. Credits: Pexels
If you think you’re too old to learn new skills, think again! It turns out that learning a new skill or hobby is not only enjoyable and interesting, but it can also stimulate your mind by strengthening neural connections. A 2013 study found that learning a new skill can help improve memory function in older adults. Not only that, it can help to alleviate boredom and liven up your daily routine.

So, if you've always wanted to learn something new, whether it's how to repair your car, how to cook a new recipe, how to play the guitar, improve your computer skills, gardening, or even photography, now you have one more good reason to do so. We have a fantastic photography forum where you can send your photos while practising your photography skills. Sharing your photos with others will help you identify areas for improvement while also brightening people's days.

If you don't know where to begin learning new hobbies or skills, you can look for videos on YouTube. You'd be surprised at how many people teach on YouTube. There are also countless high-quality, free online courses available for those who want to learn more complicated things, such as setting up a home business or learning new computer software. Free university-developed courses are available through EdX, Udemy, Coursera, and Futurelearn. Check to see if your state government provides free classes for seniors.

If you're stuck on what skill to learn, here are a few ideas:

1. Painting
2. Pottery
3. Coding
4. Cooking
5. Computer skills
6. Entrepreneurship
7. Dancing
8. Public Speaking
9. Photography
10. Dress-making
11. Knitting
12. Dancing
13. Musical instruments
14. Gardening
15. Carpentry
16. Sewing

8. Get plenty of sleep
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According to research, not getting enough quality sleep can lead to impaired memory. Credits: Pexels
Your brain does not sleep when your eyes close at night. According to research, while you sleep, memories and newly learned skills are transferred to more permanent regions of the brain, making them easier to recall. So, when you don’t get enough quality sleep, new memories get lost and are difficult to recover later. This demonstrates that sleep deprivation increases your risk of physical problems and mental health problems such as impaired memory, decreased attention span, and mood changes.

If you're having trouble falling or staying asleep, here are some tips for hitting the sack:​
  1. Avoid heavy meals before sleep - Large serving sizes can irritate your stomach, causing you to lose sleep. Instead, eat small snacks like fruits and nuts when you're hungry.​
  2. Be consistent - Set a bedtime and stick with it. If you’re consistent with your sleep time, it will help you sleep better. Also, set a regular time to wake up on weekends.​
  3. Limit drinking alcohol and stimulants - Avoid alcoholic beverages and stimulants such as coffee, cola, chocolate, and cigarettes four to six hours before going to bed.​
  4. Exercise regularly - Exercising regularly has been shown to help you fall asleep faster and improve your sleep quality.​
9. Listen to music or play an instrument
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Studies have shown that listening to happy music helps increase your creative brainpower. Credits: Pexels

If you want to increase your creative brainpower, you might want to turn on some music.

Music, it turns out, is beneficial not only to our ears but also to our memory function. According to a 2017 study, listening to happy music helps generate innovative solutions compared to being silent.

If you enjoy watching videos on YouTube, I don't think you'll struggle with this one. And if you've always wanted to learn to play an instrument, it’s never too late.

10. Learn a new language
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Studies have shown that being fluent in more than one language can delay the onset of age-related mental decline. Credits: Pexels
If you think it's too late to start learning a new language, think again! According to studies, learning a new language at any age can improve your memory and other mental functions. Numerous studies have found that bilingualism can help with memory and creativity. A 2012 review of research demonstrated the numerous cognitive benefits of being able to speak more than one language. It has also been shown that being fluent in more than one language can delay the onset of age-related mental decline.

Need more good news? Well, learning a new language in this day and age is easier than ever, thanks to mobile applications such as Duolingo and Babbel. If you don't have access to apps, you can still learn a language by reading books or taking language classes in your local areas (usually libraries run them!). This way, you get to practise a new language with other people while also making new friends. Another win-win situation!



We hope you find this helpful and we can’t wait to hear what hobbies you take on to help keep that brain of yours active. Let us know in the comments below!
 
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Vella

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Ricci

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Start the day by reading the SDC newsletter, thoughtfully comment on as many articles as possible. Read other peoples comments throughout the day and acknowledge them all and comment or reply to any that require it. Attempt all of the daily challenges of the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, and finish the day by reading in bed, aiming for at least a chapter. So it would appear I've got a lot of the bases covered. I'm also thinking of reviving some of my hobbies and making some mosaics or diamond dot paintings or both. If after all this brain training I start to lose it, boy, am I ever going to be p****ed!!!:)
 

Maddie

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Start the day by reading the SDC newsletter, thoughtfully comment on as many articles as possible. Read other peoples comments throughout the day and acknowledge them all and comment or reply to any that require it. Attempt all of the daily challenges of the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, and finish the day by reading in bed, aiming for at least a chapter. So it would appear I've got a lot of the bases covered. I'm also thinking of reviving some of my hobbies and making some mosaics or diamond dot paintings or both. If after all this brain training I start to lose it, boy, am I ever going to be p****ed!!!:)
@Ricci I LOVE THIS! Thank you for sharing, this has made my day! Also, if you ever do revive some of those hobbies of yours, I'd love to see some pictures of the diamond dot paintings!
 
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Maddie

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@Jill57 I read this yesterday afternoon, then ran into a new neighbour in my apartment block he told me his name and I repeated it back to him (which is supposed to help you remember it) and I cannot remember his name for the life of me :ROFLMAO: I think I'll have to stay inside for a while and try smelling some rosemary until it comes back to me! :ROFLMAO:
 
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Jill57

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@Jill57 I read this yesterday afternoon, then ran into a new neighbour in my apartment block he told me his name and I repeated it back to him (which is supposed to help you remember it) and I cannot remember his name for the life of me :ROFLMAO: I think I'll have to stay inside for a while and try smelling some rosemary until it comes back to me! :ROFLMAO:
I used to be a secondary teacher and for the last few years I could not remember student names so I had a seating plan and they had to sit where I put them so I could call names from my seating plan
 
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