By Nyaka Mwanza
Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating are common and often accepted parts of getting older, and not necessarily a sign that something serious is wrong.
Sometimes, though, forgetfulness and memory issues can be a sign of a bigger health problem, such as lesions in the brain. Brain lesions are a type of damage due to trauma or disease. Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and multiple sclerosis (MS) are all issues that can cause brain lesions that affect memory.
The answer to your memory issues will largely depend on the underlying cause of your forgetfulness. Here are some active ways you can cope with problems remembering in your day-to-day life, regardless of the root cause.
When you start becoming forgetful, the contents of your brain may feel jumbled up and your days more confusing. To help you cope, try to cut down on disorganization in your space and in your days. These four Rs may help you remember things a little better.
High-tech and low-tech options alike are available to remind yourself of important tasks, from putting a sticky note on the bathroom mirror to remind you to take your medications, to setting an alarm on your phone’s calendar to remind you when trash day is.
Using a list, make a roadmap to keep track of the tasks you want and need to accomplish each day. Refer back to these lists often and update them as you accomplish tasks. In addition to feeling more focused, you may find that checking the items off your lists makes you feel accomplished and productive.
Repetition and Routine
One method to commit information to short term memory is called rehearsal — repeating the information or action to commit it to memory. If we make a habit or routine out of, say, putting our keys and wallet in the same place when we get home, or brushing our teeth before we get into bed, this repeated action can help us remember it as part of our routine.
Routines are about consistency and habit. A consistent schedule with tasks tied to specific times of day can eliminate the time spent figuring out what needs to be done. If you become accustomed to doing certain things at a certain time, you’re more likely to remember them without too much effort or energy.
A healthy diet comprising lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats is as good for your brain as it is for your body. Drinking too much alcohol can exacerbate memory loss and confusion, so stick with water and other nonalcoholic options.
Sleep helps your brain commit things to memory, so be sure you’re getting enough deep, restful sleep — seven to nine hours per night for most adults.
Getting your body moving increases blood flow to your brain, which may help keep memory sharp. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) recommends getting around 150 minutes of low-impact or moderate exercise each week. If you don’t have time or energy for a full workout, a few 10-minute walks or stretching sessions throughout the day can do your mind good. Any physical activity is better than none.
According to the Mayo Clinic, stress and depression can both make memory loss worse, so social interaction is an important protective factor. Get together with loved ones, friends, and others. Try volunteering at a local community organization or your house of worship. Staying involved in activities and connected to your community are vital to your health, both mind and body.
If you or your loved one is experiencing memory loss and is in need of the additional support of a senior living community or home healthcare service, Oasis Senior Advisors can help. Call (888) 455-5838 to connect with your local advisor today.