I've been watching "Jeopardy" for many years, and was always quite pleased with myself for getting many of the correct answers—and fast, prompting me to consider going on the show. These days, I would still get the answers right, but only after rooting around my brain for about ten minutes... or an hour, which won't get me on the show anytime soon. Not unless Alex Trebek starts saying, "Take your time," instead of, "Quickly!"
I read recently that memory starts deteriorating at the age of thirty, which means that mine has been going downhill for more than twenty years. It sounds pretty discouraging, but there are many ways to stem the tide of normal, age-related memory loss—quite different from Alzheimer's disease—from which everyone can benefit, whether you're thirty or eighty. And the best way to start is to take care of your body:
- A diet consisting mostly of seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, olive oil, and an occasional glass of red wine—while reducing butter, red meat and salt—often referred to as the "Mediterranean "diet, not only helps with maintaining your memory, but has been noted for its benefits to reducing heart disease and cancer.
- We all know that physical exercise is good for your body, but it's also good for your brain. Whether it's aerobic, or a 15-minute walk, exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain, improving not just your memory, but also your ability to learn, and to maintain concentration.
- Meditation is also beneficial because it reduces stress. Often we can't remember something and we become flustered, sending the brain into a panic, pushing the information we're trying to retrieve even further away. But with regular meditation, any stresses become easier to deal with.
- If you enjoy crossword puzzles, keep doing them, but they rely on information that you already know. Learning something entirely NEW, however, is the best exercise for your brain. Whether you learn how to play poker, try to memorize the constellations, or learn to speak a foreign language, the best part is that you don't even have to be good at it. It's not the end-result that matters, but the PROCESS of learning, that lights up brain cells.
Finally, cut yourself some slack. I come from a family of list-makers, so this is second nature to me. But I also can't remember things like I used to, so I not only make a list of errands, I tape it to the front door, and then tape it to the steering wheel. It works like a charm!
About SJ Wilson
SJ Wilson has been writing novels for many years, including the recently published, The Soul of Fenway. She loves spending time with her family, especially at the beach. Her hobbies include genealogy, photography, American history, and baseball.