Memory Loss and Techniques to Improve Your
Many health conditions can lead to memory loss, particularly in
older adults. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are among the
most common causes of poor memory.
However, your memory can also be affected by:
- multiple sclerosis
- a head injury
- vitamin deficiencies
- thyroid problems
Even if you can remember events that happened many years ago, it
becomes harder for your brain to retain new memories as you age.
Fortunately, a number of techniques can help you improve your
memory. These techniques are sometimes known as “memory aids training.”
Mental Challenge: Exercise Your Mind
Activities and games that stimulate your mind can help improve
your memory. The following activities can help keep your mind active:
- Talk to friends and family members to stay mentally
engaged, especially if you live alone. Explain your memory problems to them and
suggest ways that they can help.
- Spend more time reading if you have
difficulty remembering words. If you come to a word you don’t know, look it up
in the dictionary right away before reading further.
- Challenge yourself with crossword puzzles and
board games. These types of activities help activate nerve cells in your brain.
This becomes even more important as you age.
- Try playing a video game. Some games feature
logic and word puzzles that are designed to challenge your mind.
Organize Your Life
Keeping things organized can help fight forgetfulness. If you
know where to find the items you need each day, you’ll be less likely to lose
them. These tips can help:
- Have a permanent spot for important
items like your keys, purse, wallet, and medications. Place each item back
in its spot right after using it.
- Write daily lists of things to do, or have
a family member or friend help you write lists, if necessary. Check off each
item as you complete it so that you’ll remember what you’ve done.
- Remove items from your living space that you
don’t need. Having too much clutter can be distracting and may make you lose
your mental focus.
Too many changes in your schedule can confuse you if you have
memory problems. A regular routine can make you feel more secure. It can also
help you remember what you’re going to do and what you’ve done each day. Here
are some techniques to try:
- Develop daily habits that are easy to follow.
Stick to these routines by doing activities at the same time each day.
- Use clocks, watches, and calendars to help
you keep track of the time and date.
- Write down activities and appointments in an
organizer or calendar. You can use either a paper or electronic planner for
- Keep paper planners in a place that’s easy to
see, such as in your kitchen or by your bed. Keep electronic planners open on
Written instructions can help jog your memory if you use them
regularly. Here are some ways to use written reminders:
- Place labels on household items to help you
remember what you need to know. For example:
- Label drawers to describe what’s in them.
- Place often-called phone numbers by your phone.
- Label doors and windows with reminders to open
or close them.
- Place a note near your stove to remind you to
turn it on or off.
- Label pictures of people who you see often
to remind you of their names.
- Ask a loved one to call you with reminders about
things you need to do, places you need to go, or medicines you need to take.
Practice Healthy Habits
If you’re tired, anxious, stressed, or depressed, you may find
it even harder to remember things. Take the time to practice these healthy
- Don’t rush through activities, and don’t
let others rush you. Take the time you need to complete each task at your own
- Exercise regularly. For example, stay physically
active by walking 30 minutes a day to help your memory.
- Drink less alcohol. Alcohol can negatively
affect your memory.
Avoid stress when possible. Noise, bustle, and
multitasking can affect your concentration and make it harder to remember