Memory loss can affect us all, whether we are young or old. Here are a few ways you can improve your memory

10 February

Memory loss is not exclusive to people with medical conditions, it can affect us all and is frustrating at the best of times. Whether you are an elderly person living with dementia, a teen revising for exams, or someone who simply finds themselves searching for their car keys on one too many occasions – there are plenty of ways to improve your memory on a daily basis.

It is worth noting just how many factors can affect our memory, be it for better or for worse. Stress for example, significantly impedes on our ability to retain information, as does depression and anxiety. We have all experienced a busy mind that feels full to the brim, or a lack of patience and attention span. So taking a calm and measured approach is definitely a good start.

Using Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonics are systems intended to assist memory function. They include anything from patterns of numbers and letters, to visual cues and associations, and can be as simple or abstract as you like. The more ridiculous the images, the more likely you are to remember them.

Acrostics

Incredibly useful. They are sentences where each word’s first letter is significant. Many of us learned the order of the planets and the colours of the rainbow with silly-sounding sentences that have lodged themselves in our brains for our entire lives. The same goes for rhymes, such as “In fourteen-hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue”, or the alphabet sung to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

The Loci method

The Loci method has been used for thousands of years. This is where you mentally place things you want to remember within locations that are really familiar to you. If that seems too challenging, try using sticky notes around the house. You will be surprised how quickly you are able to associate what is written on them with where you are.

Be Mindful

Believe it or not, positive thinking will increase your chances of improving your memory. The worst thing you can do is to be hard on yourself, or adopting a defeatist attitude of “I can’t” or “I’m hopeless at this”. Focus on all the small achievements you make and the things you do remember, rather than those you forget. The more you expect to be forgetful, the more you will be. So turn it around and be patient with yourself.

The same goes for taking a moment to pause, breathe and calmly retrace your steps either mentally or physically if you have forgotten what you came into the room for.

Focus

This is another vital tool for forming and retaining new memories. Many of us are too distracted to give our full attention to what it is we need to remember. Giving that thing priority and time will also give it a chance to solidify in our mind.

Exercise Your Brain

Our brains are no different from the rest of our bodies – they need a balanced diet of stimulation and rest, with the right kind of both. Crosswords, Sudoku, jigsaws and other puzzles are great ways to flex your grey matter.

Testing yourself is also a proven means to really ingrain what you’ve learned, regardless of how well you score. So quizzes are ideal and can be enjoyed as individual or group activities.

Our minds are usually at their most restful just before we sleep. So revising any new information during this time will help it to find its place in your mind. It has been suggested that listening to classical music is a good accompaniment to learning, thanks to its ability to sharpen our concentration whilst simultaneously quietening the white noise.