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Categories > Mental and Emotional Health > Self-improvement

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Memory tricks that work

Boost your brainpower

Q: I’ve heard that crossword puzzles or other brain teasers might help slow the decline in memory as you age. Does that claim have any validity?

A: Yes! Researchers have found that people who participate frequently in activities that stimulate the mind—like reading, playing cards, doing crosswords or visiting museums—reduce the rate of decline in thinking and memory that comes with normal aging. (Unfortunately, the activities did not seem to benefit those already showing symptoms of Alzheimer’sdisease).

You can also help your memory by:

  • taking a class to learn a new skill or hobby
  • socializing often with friends or family
  • getting new eyeglasses or hearing aids (making it easier to recall what you see and hear)

Where did I put those keys? What’s my neighbor’s daughter’s name? To improve your memory, try these strategies:

  • Keep running lists. You’re more likely to buy what you need at the store or call everyone you want to invite to a party if you write everything down.
  • Stop multitasking. You may have trouble remembering things because you’re not fully paying attention. Focus on one activity at a time, so you’re more likely to remember it.
  • Use mnemonic devices. If you’re heading to the supermarket for milk, apples and paper towels, it’s easier to remember the items if you make a word out of their first initials: MAP. To remember the names of the newest members in your book club, try to make a word out of their first initials: For example, Sue, Anne, Louise and Tonya are SALT.
  • Follow routines. Always take your pills when you wake up, and you’ll be apt to remember every day. Or hang your keys on the same hook and you’ll always know where to look for them. Keep an inexpensive pair of reading glasses in the same spot in each room where you curl up with a book. You’ll always know where they are, and you won’t have to run to a different room whenever you feel like reading.


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