Memory Archive


Finding your focus

The brain has an enormous power to learn, remember, and solve problems. Yet, like any aging body part, it can gradually slow, and people may find it harder to concentrate and stay focused. Following certain strategies can help prepare the brain for situations that require a high level of focus and improve overall brain health.

Can brain training smartphone apps and computer games really help you stay sharp?

A large number of apps and computer programs claim to help keep the mind sharp and improve memory. Since there is limited evidence that these programs bring cognitive benefits, be skeptical of these claims and choose the ones that you enjoy. Meanwhile, practice proven brain-protecting strategies such as staying physically active, eating a healthy diet, socializing, and avoiding brain-harming habits such as drinking excess alcohol, getting too little sleep, and using illegal drugs.

Shield your brain from decline

The acronym SHIELD sums up the habits that may help ward off cognitive decline. SHIELD stands for sleeping at least seven hours per night, handling stress, interacting with friends, exercising daily, learning new things, and eating a healthy diet. Ideally, one should incorporate all of these healthy lifestyle habits into each day. If that feels overwhelming, doctors advise focusing on a different healthy habit per day, until it’s possible to practice all of the habits every day.

Managing memory slip-ups

After a certain age, most adults encounter nagging and sometimes embarrassing memory lapses. While recurring or worsening memory issues always should be checked out, everyday lapses—like recalling names, finding everyday items, and remembering appointments, errands, and even online passwords—can be managed with some simple strategies.

How much sleep keeps cognitive decline at bay?

Sleeping six hours or less is associated with impaired cognition, mostly in memory, as well as an increase in the protein that can form brain plaque. Sleeping nine hours or more is also linked to cognitive problems, especially in decision making.

Working out your brain

Cardio exercise has been convincingly linked to less cognitive decline and may even improve cognitive functioning. Research suggests it can strengthen the heart, promote arterial health, improve blood flow to the brain, fight inflammation, and increase key chemicals that promote new brain cell growth. The type of exercise does not matter, but cardio that is both physically challenging and offers mental stimulation is ideal.

Helpful gadgets for a fuzzy memory

Many gadgets help support memory. Some—such as calendars, voice recorders, and talking motion-activated sensors—provide basic reminders that can be used to help someone remember appointments, lists, and more. Other tools, such as key hooks and mini shelves, support memory by establishing a reliable storage spot for everyday objects such as keys and eyeglasses. Automatic pill dispensers and pill alarms can help people manage a medication regimen. Wireless trackers can help people find objects when they’re misplaced. Smartphones have many memory-support tools, such as calendars, notepads, voice recorders, and alarms.

Harvard finds flavonoids linked to sharper thinking and memory

People with the highest daily flavonoid intakes were 19% less likely to report trouble with memory and thinking, compared with people who had the lowest daily flavonoid intakes, according to a Harvard study published online July 28, 2021, by Neurology.

Can friends who listen help protect your memory and thinking skills?

A study published online Aug. 16, 2021, by JAMA Network Open suggests that older adults with good listeners in their lives have better thinking skills—despite decreases in brain volume—compared with people who don’t have good listeners in their lives.

Diets rich in flavonoids linked to better brain health

Diets rich in plant chemicals called flavonoids may help protect the brain.

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