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Memory loss: 7 tips to improve your memory

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

Can't find your car keys? Forget your grocery list? Can't remember the name of the personal trainer you liked at the gym? You're not alone. Everyone forgets things once in a while. Still, memory loss is nothing to take lightly.

Although there are no guarantees when it comes to preventing memory loss or dementia, some activities might help. Consider seven simple ways to sharpen your memory. And know when to get help for memory loss.

1. Be physically active every day

Physical activity raises blood flow to the whole body, including the brain. This might help keep your memory sharp.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging. It's best if this activity is spread throughout the week. If you don't have time for a full workout, try a few 10-minute walks throughout the day.

2. Stay mentally active

Just as physical activity keeps your body in shape, activities that engage your mind help keep your brain in shape. And those activities might help prevent some memory loss. Do crossword puzzles. Read. Play games. Learn to play a musical instrument. Try a new hobby. Volunteer at a local school or with a community group.

3. Spend time with others

Social interaction helps ward off depression and stress. Both of those can contribute to memory loss. Look for opportunities to get together with loved ones, friends and other people, especially if you live alone.

4. Stay organized

You're more likely to forget things if your home is cluttered or your notes are in disarray. Keep track of tasks, appointments and other events in a notebook, calendar or electronic planner. You might even repeat each entry out loud as you write it down to help keep it in your memory. Keep to-do lists up to date. Check off items you've finished. Keep your wallet, keys, glasses and other essential items in a set place in your home so they are easy to find.

Limit distractions. Don't do too many things at once. If you focus on the information that you're trying to remember, you're more likely to recall it later. It also might help to connect what you're trying to remember to a favorite song or a familiar saying or idea.

5. Sleep well

Not getting enough sleep has been linked to memory loss. So has restless sleep and sleep that gets disturbed often. Make getting enough healthy sleep a priority. Adults should sleep 7 to 9 hours a night on a regular basis. If snoring disrupts sleep, make an appointment to see your health care provider. Snoring could be a sign of a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea.

6. Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet is good for your brain. Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose low-fat protein sources, such as fish, beans and skinless poultry. What you drink also counts. Too much alcohol can lead to confusion and memory loss.

7. Manage chronic health problems

Follow your health care provider's advice for dealing with medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, hearing loss and obesity. The better you take care of yourself, the better your memory is likely to be. Regularly review the medicines you take with your health care provider. Some medicines can affect memory.

When to get help for memory loss

If you're worried about memory loss, make an appointment with your health care provider. If memory loss affects your ability to do your daily activities, if you notice your memory getting worse, or if a family member or friend is concerned about your memory loss, it's particularly important to get help.

At your appointment, your provider likely will do a physical exam and check your memory and problem-solving skills. Sometimes other tests may be needed too. Treatment depends on what's causing memory loss.

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