Boost Your Memory
Memory loss is unsettling at any age, but the implications become more serious as you grow older. However, we often forget that memory loss happens throughout life, even during youth. A college student thinks little of missing a meeting. Though when a senior citizen does the same, they worry about their mental functioning. Memory loss can be the result of many different causes. Brain injury, medication, anxiety, depression, trauma, alcohol or drug use, hearing loss, infection, stroke, sleep or other undiagnosed health issues can all play a role. Whether forgetfulness is the result of these contributors or it runs in the family, there are actions we can take to prevent and slow down the onset of memory loss. All it takes are a few lifestyle changes to boost your memory and notice improvement in recollection. Read along for tips to target brain functioning and boost your memory for good.
Types of Memory Storage
There are three main kinds of memory storage – sensory memory, short-term memory and long-term memory. Sensory memory is information received through your senses: a smell, sound or sensation. Short-term memory, also known as working or buffer memory, allows you to recall information within one minute of processing. This is essential to forming creative or novel thoughts, as you connect new information with past knowledge. This type of memory is extremely susceptible to issues associated with brain injury, like pain, stress, fatigue, attention problems and sensory overload. Long-term memory, unlike short-term memory, has unlimited capacity. Sometimes long-term memory is referred to as remote or secondary memory. It is increasingly cemented in the brain as the information is relieved.
Long-term Memory Formation & Storage
Long-term memory is formed in two ways: declarative memory and procedural memory. Declarative memory is the retention of events or fact-based information. For instance, a person’s birthdate or information about yourself. Procedural memory is the learning of skills, procedures and motor movement. This is sometimes referred to as motor memory. The brain processes these types of long-term memory in two ways: explicit and implicit. Explicit memory is the conscious learning of material or information. An example of explicit declarative memory is learning the birthdate of a friend to wish them a happy birthday. Implicit memory occurs when learning a new detail or motor movement unconsciously. Learning to balance while riding a bike for the first time is an example of implicit memory.
Memories of Emotional Events
Episodic memory, or flashbulb memory, is the collection of details associated with an emotional event. This information might include smells, sights and sounds. An example of episodic memory is the memory of what you were doing on September 11, 2001 when you learned of the attacks on the Twin Towers.
Memory & Brain Injury
Memories stored before an emotional event are retrograde memories, while those stored after injury are anterograde memories. Often after a brain injury, long-term memories are easiest to access, as well as memories occurring around the time of injury. Verbal and word-finding deficits can continue for years. Learning new material is challenging as it requires attention, organization, and sensory and short-term memory. Sufferers of brain injury sometimes report experiencing déjà vu due to reliving a thought or experience they have forgotten. Struggling with memory after a brain injury can be extremely stressful. Any memory loss related to an accident should be discussed with a professional.
Consult with your doctor if…
You struggle to retain new information, your memory loss is permanent or you have issues with inattention. A doctor can rule out other contributors and administer neuropsychological tests to give you peace of mind. These evaluations will compare your current functioning with your previous abilities.
A doctor can also refer you to a Speech/Language Pathologist trained in remediating cognitive and memory issues. This can be helpful in learning new methods of storing and retrieving information. Dr. Diane®’s team of specialists includes Amy Karas, a certified Speech-Language Pathologist. Amy specializes in cognitive, social pragmatics and language treatment. She emphasizes providing functional therapy strategies and systems, while restoring skills when able. Forgetting can be the result of information no longer being stored or an interference with memory. A Speech-Language Pathologist can assist with strategies to help with these struggles. For example, many brain injury sufferers learn to repeat information or link it with other familiar facts to improve recall.
Restorative sleep is especially important for memory issues. Sleep is necessary for the storage of memories. Non-Rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, in which no dreaming occurs, is associated with storing declarative memories. For instance, NREM sleep helps you retain information for an exam or learn lines from a script. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which includes dreaming, helps with storing procedural memory. REM sleep is necessary for learning the sequence of an unconscious action like walking or talking. Boost your memory by reviewing some of our tips for a better night’s sleep.
Neurofeedback is a therapy that assesses brainwave activity and uses sounds or visual signals to retrain the brain for optimum functioning. This treatment is an effective way of retrieving memories. Neurofeedback assists regulation and formation of new neural connections integral to storage and retrieval. Dr. Diane is an experienced neurofeedback practitioner, administering neurofeedback to many of her patients. For at home use, FDA approved CES devices can help combat stress, anxiety, improve sleep and do not have any side effects.
Hypnosis can be useful in retrieving past memories. Information is recalled more easily if the state in which it was registered is replicated. Hypnosis is used to return to this state and to modify reactions and perceptions of stimuli. As focus and attention are important factors in memory recall, hypnosis can be a huge help. Dr. Diane has experienced the benefits of hypnosis and administers it to many patients with success.
Move Your Body
Regular exercise has shown to be one of the best ways to prevent memory loss. Sedentary people present a higher risk of cognitive problems as they age. No type of exercise has shown to be most beneficial, but strength training and tai chi may provide brain-protective benefits. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, with at least two days of strength training per week. In one study, participants required about 52 hours of exercise before seeing improvements in brain functioning. This was achieved in six months for most participants exercising approximately two hours per week. Get your body moving – anything that increases heart rate and blood flow to the brain counts.
Studies have linked a heart-healthy anti-inflammatory diet with reduced cognitive decline. A varied diet with colorful fruits and veggies can help prevent memory loss. Scientists believe these foods have protective antioxidants and bioactive substances that decrease the brain’s oxidative stress. These brain-boosters include vitamins A, B, C, E, and carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols. Consume adequate amounts of leafy greens, berries, healthy fats, nuts and fish weekly to boost your memory. Elderberries also have high levels of antioxidants, resulting in decreased inflammation. Eliminate refined sugar, corn syrup, and grains that can be fermented or distilled, as these can generate inflammation in the body.
Control Blood Pressure
High blood pressure has been associated with cognitive decline in later life. This may be due to reduced blood flow to the brain over an extended period of time. Along with negative impacts on the brain, high blood pressure can cause damage to other organs, like the heart and kidneys. Consult with your doctor to evaluate what lifestyle changes can be made to lower blood pressure.
Boost your memory by challenging your brain. Engaging in intellectually stimulating activities throughout life, like learning new hobbies and skills, may reduce cognitive decline. Enrolling in a class, playing strategic games or learning a new language are all great ways to stimulate your brain.
Loneliness and reduced social contact have been associated with increased risk of dementia. Studies show older adults with busier schedules do better on memory, reasoning, and processing speed tests. Schedule time to socialize and remain engaged with your community. It can be easy to put off making plans, but socializing can dramatically impact your health.
Many people who fear they suffer from cognitive decline may instead struggle with high stress levels. Cortisol limits the brain’s ability for recall and recognition, while also flooding memory banks. Stress affects short-term and autobiographical memory, along with many other areas of the brain. Focus on incorporating mindfulness practices to reduce feelings of stress in your life. This includes using meditation, mindful thinking, TFT tapping, reflection and journaling.
TFT tapping uses a combination of acupressure and affirmations to relieve stress. This can be a simple way to refocus your attention and introduce moments of mindfulness to your life. Learn this method of stress relief and see your stress levels improve dramatically with Dr. Diane, who was trained by the originator of this technique.
Used in combination, these mindfulness practices can do wonders to improve feelings of stress and boost your memory.
What to Avoid?
Sudden lifestyle changes can immediately decrease chances of cognitive decline. Quit smoking, eliminate junk food and caffeine, stop excessive drinking and avoid sleeping pills. All these behaviors are associated with increased risk of dementia.
Looking for more ways to prevent cognitive decline? Check out these memory-boosting products below:
Bach Flowers: These essences are a homeopathic remedy that use frequencies emitted by flowers to decrease feelings of stress and anxiety. Different varieties of flower essences were found to match the frequencies of specific emotions. Bach Flowers do not interfere with medication. Their best-selling Rescue Remedy is available to help when you are overwhelmed by stress.
Inner Balance by Heartmath: Inner Balance uses a sensor to provide biofeedback, giving you direct insight into how your nervous system responds to your mental health in real time. Use this in addition to the offered guided meditations and coaching to reduce stress.
David Delight Pro: The DAVID Delight Pro is a portable hand-held device administering AVE (Audio-Visual Entrainment) and CES (Cranio-Electro Stimulation). This device increases cerebral blood flow and stimulates neurotransmitters. Experience lasting improvements in memory, concentration, stress, insomnia, mental sharpness with this device.
Take Control of Your Health
Preventing memory loss is best achieved through a multitude of strategies. Cognitive decline is not inevitable and there are many lifestyle strategies you can use to boost your memory . The sooner you can make these changes, the better, but it’s never too late to start! From exercising to reducing stress, these strategies have benefits far greater than improving memory – they can change your life by making you a happier and healthier person. Try out these strategies to boost your memory and experience the lasting positive change these practices bring.
5 Prong Approach
Cognition is just one aspect of health that falls under my 5 Prong Approach. The 5 Prong Approach is an evaluation of five interconnected facets used to diagnose and treat my patients. Using this integrative method, the whole individual is examined to understand symptoms from 5 distinct perspectives: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual and energy. Dr. Diane®’s integrative team of brain health experts specialize in a variety of services using the best practices in complementary, alternative, and conventional medicine, including nutrition, neurofeedback, reiki, acupuncture, homeopathy, speech and language pathology, and more.
If you would like to schedule a consult with Dr. Diane® or receive treatment from any members of Dr. Diane®’s Integrative Team of Health Experts…