You can’t find your keys. You just met someone new and you’ve already forgotten their name. You walked into the kitchen to get something, but you can’t remember what you were looking for. We’ve all been there, but what can you do about it?
Short-term memory difficulties are among the most common cognitive complaints people have. It’s a quintessential sign of aging and a major concern for many of us, but everyone
has memory lapses or difficulty keeping track of information at least occasionally.
Sometimes, what seems like a memory issue is really an attention or focus problem. If you’re not paying attention to something, you likely won’t remember it later. You have a limited
amount of attention and distractions can interfere with what you need to focus on.
Strategies to keep your memory sharp
No matter what your age, you can benefit from some tips and tricks to help stay focused, avoid accidents, optimize daily well-being, increase productivity—and simply remember things better!
#1 Say no to multitasking
It’s tempting to try and multitask when your ‘to do’ list is a mile long, but did you know that it can actually be counterproductive? Studies show that it makes us less efficient and more prone to errors, so try these tactics instead:
- Focus on one thing at a time and give it your full attention.
- Break larger jobs down into smaller, “bite-sized” tasks.
- Turn off distractions like your TV and cell phone and find a quiet place to work. Wear noise-canceling headphones if needed.
- Make eye contact and face people directly when you speak with them.
#2 Manage your time
- Tackle your toughest tasks when your energy is highest, and when you feel focused and relaxed—usually first thing in the morning.
- Try to keep on task by setting a timer for 25 minutes without taking a break. Then take a five-minute break to do something relaxing. Repeat the cycle several times and then take a longer break to reward yourself. You can adjust the times to match your personal attention span.
- Recharge regularly to give your brain a break. Try relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, or mediation to calm your mind and restore your focus.
- Build a routine by repeating daily tasks at the same time and in the same way every day, so you’ll be less likely to forget.
- Designate a specific spot, like a basket on the hall table, to put everyday items like your keys, wallet, and glasses. Make it a habit to drop things there when you come in so you’re less likely to misplace them.
#3 Teach yourself new tricks
- Try breaking new information down into fewer, more memorable, “chunks” such as turning 5-6-1-2 into “fifty-six, twelve.”
- Repeat important information several times out loud or in your head to help it sink in.
- Connect new information with something you already know well to increase your chances of remembering it. For example, make a mental note if someone’s name is the same as your sister’s or someone famous.
#4 Create a memory “toolbox”
- Your smart phone is a powerful tool, loaded with apps like calendars, timers, and notepads to help keep you organized.
- If you prefer paper, carry a small notebook to jot down important notes and keep a checklist of to-dos to stay organized. Rely on your calendar to keep track of appointments and tasks.
- Use your alarm for more than just waking up. Set alarms during the day to remind you of events and appointments.
- Use a day-of-the-week pill box to hold your medications and set your alarm to remember to take them at the same time every day.
Home Care Angels provides assistance with daily activities, such as dressing, eating and personal care, from home service aides. Please call 847.824.5221 to speak with one of our Client Care Coordinators if you would like more information on in-home care.