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Minds Matter – Three Tips to Stay Sharp and Enhance Memory

Group of senior people in front of desktop computer

The following article was written by our MindSense Cognitive Specialist, Emily Scholler. 

Cognitive decline is one of the things older adults fear most about getting older. Here are three suggestions to help reduce your risk and improve your odds of staying mentally sharp.

Rest up!

Rest is a powerful and restorative rejuvenator. During sleep your brain sorts through the memories you formed during the day and actively works to strengthen the important ones. Research shows that those who rest after receiving new information triple the number of words they are able to remember compared to those who remain busy with other tasks. A good night’s sleep also maintains the communication pathways between the prefrontal cortex part of the brain that handles decision making and the amygdala that controls emotions. This neural teamwork helps keep your emotions in check. Finding quiet times during the day to relax for a short while will also boost the brain decision making and make it more productive. So the next time you have a challenging task ahead, fire up your brain by finding a quiet space and relax for a short while before engaging in it – your brain will thank you and your overall performance will be better!

Quiz yourself!

Take an active approach to learning by quizzing yourself and repeating out loud the information you want to remember. Doing this will create stronger synaptic connections in your brain’s neural network, making it easier for you to retrieve that information when you need it later. This is even more effective if you space out the intervals so that there is a progressive learning curve.

Teach it!

Memory has a use it or lose it quality – it’s the brain’s way of clearing out unused information and making space for new, more important ones. By explaining new information to someone else, you show your comprehension of the information, making recall easier and quicker. The teaching technique is an active way of using the information we want to remember, making it harder to forget.

Try out these strategies for yourself and see that you are never too old to learn something new!

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