Top tips to keep active and prevent memory loss

We’ve all done that thing where we walk into a room and forget what we’ve gone in there for.  Or let an important date or appointment slip our mind.

But when an elderly loved one starts forgetting things on a regular basis such as names, places or regular activities then, these slip ups can be cause for concern.

Memory loss isn’t always a cause for concern – mild forgetfulness is a typical sign of ageing.  It isn’t always a reason to worry that your family member has dementia, although it’s always good to keep an eye out for other signs.

Whilst memory impairment is to be expected as we age, there are plenty of steps we can take to help improve our minds and boost our cognitive skills.   Keeping your brain active could also help to slow the progress of dementia. 

What steps can you take to improve memory?

One of the best ways to keep your brain active is to do mental exercises or “brain games”.   These will usually fall into two categories: developing skills and retaining skills.

Can’t teach an old dog new tricks?  Studies show that learning new skills in your later years is one of the most important ways to keep your mind sharp.  But equally, it’s just as important to retain the skills you already have as they are key to your quality of life.

Whilst the importance of mental stimulation is important, there’s also evidence that physical exercise can help with your memory.   Integrating some physical activity into your daily routine will help to keep your body healthy, increase oxygen levels to the brain and will reduce your risk of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.   Exercise can also help to reduce stress levels and improve your mood.

Here are a few suggestions of things you could do to help stay healthy and improve your memory:

Attend a class

Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but never really had the opportunity?  There are lots of classes around for complete beginners which will help you to learn new skills as well as meeting like minded people for fun and friendship!

Craft classes or cookery classes typically offer a gentle introduction to more complex activities and will give your mind something to focus on. 

Test your recall

The ability to recall things is an important part of our memory, but unfortunately with the introduction of modern technology many of us have become lazy, using our phones to keep shopping lists etc.  How many times have you been asked for your own phone number only to have to look at your phone or a scrap of paper in your purse to find it?

Test yourself by popping to the shop without a list, or at least keeping it in your pocket as you walk round.  

Go out for a walk and enjoy the fresh air

Being outdoors is great for improving mood.  Not only will it provide necessary exercise but taking a walk is also a great way to make sure you are using your different senses, all part of your healthy brain function.  Even if you are unable to go out for a walk, being out in the garden can have the same effect with plenty of sights, sounds, smells and touches to experience.

If you have a loved one that is experiencing memory loss or you are worried about dementia then one thing you may wish to do is to attend a memory café.   These are safe, dementia-friendly locations which encourage participation mindful activities such as puzzles, crafts, music etc.   Family members or friends can attend with their loved ones, have a cuppa and a chat with like-minded people and there are always people on-hand to offer advice on the next steps to take. 

Visit Wrexham’s Memory Lane Café at St. Giles Church every 2nd and 4th Tuesday.

Home Instead Wrexham and Flintshire offers compassionate person-centred care, enabling your loved to remain at home for as long as possible – we’re happy to answer any questions you have and make sure you receive the right care for your loved one in later life.  Don't hesitate to call us on 01978 660423 or 01244 735201.