How To Maintain Memory and Concentration With Age
Maintaining memory and concentration can become more difficult with age. Age-related brain changes and cognitive changes can sometimes lead to declining memory performance, and make recall more difficult. Fortunately, keeping your body active can improve both your memory and concentration. In particular, a healthy diet and regular physical exercise can go a long way in protecting both memory and concentration as you grow older.
Learn New Skills
Every time you learn a new skill, your brain changes for the better. No matter your age, adopting new skills beats boredom, bolsters confidence, and even improves your mental health.
It doesn’t need to be complicated; consider learning to cook a new dish or speaking a few words in a new language. What’s most important is staying mentally active — one of the most important factors in preserving both memory and concentration.
Find Engaging Activities
You can also improve memory and concentration simply by engaging in activities you enjoy. Pursuing your hobbies can have several benefits — at home and work. Studies show that people who find time for engaging in activities are healthier and have more friends. These same activities can also help you at work: employees with creative opportunities outside of the office were better able to solve problems at work.
Healthy eating can directly impact brain function — the way your brain regulates thoughts, emotions, and the body. To maintain better memory and concentration levels, it’s important to follow a healthy eating pattern.
However, with all the recommended diets that exist online, it’s best to listen to the experts. For many, including the Food and Drug Administration, healthy eating involves increasing your fiber intake and decreasing your sodium intake to below 2,300 mg. per day.
As far as fiber goes, the best way to ingest it is through legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Despite their positive health effects, only one in 10 adults gets enough fruit and vegetables per day. Your body deserves healthy servings of fruits and vegetables to improve memory function. Try two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables per day, an effective combination with proven results.
Like diet, exercise also has strong ties to brain functionality — including memory and concentration. Physical exercise helps to create new synapses in the brain, making it easier to create and store long-term memories.
For best memory and concentration results, make exercise as much a habit as healthy eating. Even if you’re simply taking a walk around your neighborhood, or marching up and down the stairs of your apartment complex, you’re protecting brain function while guarding it against disease.
Maintain Social Connections
Social connections contribute to a strong sense of identity and help improve self-esteem while lowering anxiety and depression. Beyond these health benefits, your connections with others can also help improve memory and concentration.
Research indicates a direct correlation between friendship and memory, particularly among older populations. Participation in social activities can help sustain concentration over time, and keep memory sharp with age.
Keep interactions frequent to sustain relationships with others. Even if you’re not spending hours together each day, staying in touch is an important way to keep relationships active.
Maintain Your Eye Health
As adults age, declining vision can also create memory and concentration issues. This makes eye health even more important — particularly for anyone who already faces challenges with memory or concentration. Eye health can be difficult to maintain, or even control, which can affect your focus. For example, dry eyes require frequent attention. Cataracts can cause blurred vision and require specialized surgery.
Consider the following strategies to improve eye health:
- Wear your prescribed glasses or contacts, and clean them regularly;
- Take time away from your computer screen;
- Schedule regular visits with your eye doctor;
- Wash hands frequently and keep hands away from your face;
- Use sunglasses outside to protect from UV rays;
- Avoid smoking and tobacco use habits;
- Address farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism with LASIK surgery;
- Have cataracts surgically removed and replaced with intraocular lenses (IOLs).
Vision changes are often normal with age. For example, many people in their 50s and 60s receive LASIK surgery to achieve clearer vision. You can also receive cataract surgery after LASIK, as long as your eyes are healthy and your vision is stable.
Manage Your Blood Pressure
Healthy blood pressure can help individuals of all ages improve memory, processing speed, and attention to detail. By contrast, high blood pressure is closely associated with brain impairment risks.
There are several ways to naturally manage blood pressure. For example, both healthy eating habits and physical exercise help keep blood pressure low. You can also improve blood pressure by eliminating items like cigarettes and tobacco from your daily routine.
In certain cases, medication is also useful in managing blood pressure. Depending on your age, physical health, and other factors, your doctor might prescribe diuretics, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, or other medication that can help reduce blood pressure levels.
Manage Stress and Mental Health
Managing mental health is important at every age. As you grow older, mental health can play an even more important role in determining memory and concentration levels.
Controlling stress levels is one way to manage mental health. Studies show a close relationship between stress and mental health, particularly in older populations. While managing stress levels isn’t always easy, it’s important for memory, social interaction, and maintaining a good quality of life.
Consider some of the following strategies to help manage stress daily:
- Maintain healthy diet and exercise habits;
- Write down your thoughts in a journal;
- Spend time with people you care about;
- Reserve enough time for mental relaxation each day.
These, among other habits, can reduce stress, promoting healthy mental well-being.
In other cases, hidden causes of stress can also affect mental health levels. Watch out for stressors like job insecurity, overexposure to negative news, or device overuse — all factors can compromise your mental health and worsen your memory over time.
Getting a healthy amount of sleep each night is one of the simplest ways to protect memory and concentration levels. Among other benefits, sleep can improve brain functionality and mental health, and reduce the possibility of sleep-related injuries.
Healthy sleep habits begin before it’s time for bed. Make sure that your bedroom is dark and free from distractions. Keep the temperature comfortable, and keep unnecessary noise to a minimum.
You might also consider spending a period of time before bed — perhaps 30 or 45 minutes — without any electronic devices. This can help your body prepare for rest, and avoid blue light from mobile phones that can disrupt your circadian rhythm.
Avoid Harmful Substances
While you can’t always control what happens around you, you can control what you put into your body. One way to influence memory and concentration levels is by avoiding harmful substances, including drugs and alcohol.
This primarily helps to prevent toxic chemicals from affecting your body. When you avoid toxic substances, you also give your body the best chance to function normally — which becomes more important with age.
Substance use can also devolve into addiction, which can have a serious, lasting impact on both memory and concentration levels. Substance addiction will lower concentration levels, and can lead to weight loss, lung disease, and other consequences.