Ever walk into a room and forget why you went in there? Or stare at a colleague's face for 20 seconds before you remember his name? Or try to remember the name of that movie, the one you loved, starring that guy—it's on the tip of your tongue! (It's Jeff Goldblum. The Grand Budapest Hotel.)
Forgetfulness is normal and if you feel like you've noticed it more recently, you're not losing your marbles. You're just getting older. According to Harvard Health, there are seven types of normal forgetfulness. These include:
Transience. Forgetting facts over time.
Absentmindedness. Forgetting because you're not paying attention.
Blocking. The inability to retrieve a memory.
Misattribution. Only remembering part of something.
Suggestibility. Misconstruing facts about an incident.
Bias. Adding your personal bias to facts about a memory.
Persistence. Memories that won't go away.
Unless your memory loss is extreme or persistent, there's no need to worry about Alzheimer's or other serious memory diseases. (Dr. Gary Small, MD, a professor on aging at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, says "About 40% of people aged 65 or older have age associated memory impairment—in the United States, about 16 million people.") But if your forgetfulness is simply driving you crazy, check out these simple strategies, techniques, and lifestyle changes you can make to improve your memory. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn't Know It.
Keep Repeating It
Repetition is one of the easiest and most effective methods for remembering things. According to the University of Illinois, the Spaced Interval Repetition (SIR) technique was developed in the 1960's by famous psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus. It uses repetition at specific intervals to ensure you remember a fact or name. After you learn something and you want to continue remembering it in the short-term, repeat the fact to yourself:
Right after you learn it.
15 to 20 minutes after you initially learned it.
After six to eight hours.
24 hours later.
If you want to memorize something in the long-term, you'll need to repeat it to yourself after one day, after two to three weeks, and then again after two to three months.
Try Learning in the Afternoon
Even if you think you function better in the morning or late at night, studies show that it's easier to retain information if you learn it and review it in the afternoon. A study published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research proved this theory. 68 undergraduate participants were provided with words to remember. One group was asked to only study in the morning while the other group only studied in the afternoon. The results concluded that, "The subjects who acquired information in the afternoon had better performance than those who acquired it in the morning."
Write it Down
We don't mean a note in your smartphone or a doc on your computer. Put an actual pen or pencil to paper. Researchers at the University of Oregon conducted a study to see if physical newspaper readers comprehend better than those who read their daily news stories online. The study concluded that "Print news readers remember significantly more news stories than online readers."
Reading online and from a computer screen is harder to recall than when it's written on physical paper. If you truly want to remember a fact or name, write it down on a piece of paper and review it by physically picking it up and reading it.
Use the "Chunking" Method
The "chunking" method of memory is just as it sounds. You can chunk together tidbits of information to make it easier to remember, relating the info on some common ground. For example, if you're trying to memorize the items you need on a trip to the grocery store, you could chunk together items by where you'll find them in the store. So, apples, potatoes, and lettuce would all be chunked together as "produce" while soups and tomato sauce would be chunked together as "canned goods." Categorizing these items together makes them easier to recall than looking at a long list of unrelated items.
"The benefit of a chunking mechanism is that it mediates the amount of knowledge that one can process at any one time," claims an article published in Frontiers in Psychology. By using the chunking method on a large amount of data or a long list of items, you may be able to more easily commit this information to your short-term memory.
Make Up a Story or Scene
In order to remember something, you have to be interested in it. If your brain is bored, it can be hard to make it engage and truly learn new information. When you're stuck trying to learn boring material, you'll need to find a way to make it intriguing for your brain. Sometimes making a story or creating a scene that includes this information can be just what you need to engage your brain.
A study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) analyzed how people reacted to scenes that were created. The study concluded, "The subjects were far more likely to remember high-value scenes than low-value scenes." If you're going to use this visual strategy to remember information, it's important to create a scene or story in your head that's interesting to you or ridiculous enough to keep your brain involved. For example, "One day, I went on vacation to Budapest and who did I see in the lobby, reading a newspaper? Jeff Goldblum! What a grand hotel!"
Make it Rhyme
"In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." When you were a child learning the months of the year or the states, chances are your teacher sang you a little song to help you commit the complex concept to memory. You probably still remember these songs or rhymes and you might have even used them to help teach your kids the same concepts.
You can still use rhymes or songs to remember information as an adult, as long you're ready to tap into your creative side. Take a recognizable melody, such as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and set the information you need to remember to the beat. If this isn't working for you, create a rhyme that you can easily repeat using the information. According to The Memory Institute, "Rhyme, rhythm, repetition and melody will help you remember by taking advantage of auditory encoding and your brain's impressive ability to store these audio triggers."
Keep Things in Your "Memory Palace."
You can create your own "memory palace" when you begin to associate memories and things you want to remember with physical items in your environment. This learning method is also referred to as the method of loci (MOL). It was developed in Ancient Greece and has been used ever since. You can tap into this learning method by associating a physical item in your current location with one concept you're trying to learn. When you attempt to recall this piece of information, you'll need to visualize the room you were in when you were learning it. By envisioning the item, your memory should recall the fact you want to remember.
A study published in Advances in Physiology Education observed 78 second-year medical students as they learned about endocrinology while using the "memory palace" method. The students found the method helpful in retaining information. The study concluded, "When asked to report whether they found the MOL helpful, all participants agreed. About 85.7% of the participants agreed that it helped them understand the topic better."
When your grade school teachers used to spring pop quizzes on the class sporadically, they were really on to something. Quizzing yourself periodically can be one of the most helpful techniques for remembering information. According to Rosalind Potts, Ph.D., from University College London, "People often think testing is useful because it tells you what you know and what you don't. But the more important power of testing is giving you practice retrieving information you've learned and establishing that connection in the brain."
You don't have to create a formal test just to remember your grocery list. Simply take the time to periodically quiz yourself on the relevant information you want to retain.
Focus on One Thing at a Time
As humans, especially adult humans, our brains are going a mile a minute. In an instant, your brain may simultaneously be thinking about whether you turned off the stove, what time your meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, and if there are any good movies out. According to Psychology Today, you have about 70,000 thoughts per day. With all this happening in your head at one time, no wonder it's hard to remember things.
If you're learning something that you know you want to remember, you'll have to block these thousands of thoughts out. To focus and remember, the Mayo Clinic suggests quitting the multitasking while you're trying to learn something new. You should also:
Stop thinking about what you need to do after you focus.
Take moments to practice focusing on specific subjects.
Learn the time of day when you're the best focused and cut yourself slack in the moments you know you aren't.
Stay away from distractions when you're focusing, including co-worker chit-chat, the TV, radio, or your smartphone.
When you've mastered the ability to focus on one thing at a time, you may find improvements in both your memory and your productivity.
Use Acrostics or Acronyms
Acrostics and acronyms are mnemonic devices that you can use to remember streams of words or phrases. One of the most popular acrostics you may remember if you ever learned how to play a musical instrument is "Every Good Boy Does Fine." This acronym helps you to remember the order of the treble clef, which is EGBDF. If you were ever tasked with learning the names of the Great Lakes, your teacher may have used the acronym "HOMES," which stands for Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Eerie, and Superior.
According to the University of Denver, both acrostics and acronyms are helpful when you need quick memory aids. However, using these word associations may only be useful for memorization and usually can't help you to remember in-depth concepts or context and meaning behind phrases.
Relate New Concepts to What You Already Know
Since we already know that re-learning is much easier than learning from scratch, it can also help to relate new concepts you want to remember to those you already know. This learning concept is formally referred to as "relational learning."
For example, if you're trying to remember that an acquaintance works as a teacher, you could try to associate a characteristic of this person with one of your previous teachers. By relating a new concept to something you already know, it can be easier to remember.
Try New Hobbies
Your brain function deteriorates if you don't use it. Learning new things is important for brain health, but you don't have to read a math textbook to keep your brain sharp. When you take on a brand-new hobby you've never tried before, there will be a learning curve. You'll have to learn new terminology and movements that you'll need to memorize and practice.
A study published in Psychology Science Journal had some of its 200 elderly participants learn new skills, including digital photography and quilting, while others performed familiar hobbies, such as putting together puzzles or listening to music. Cognitive skills were tested both before and after engaging in activities. "Overall, the results suggest that learning digital photography, either alone or in combination with learning to quilt, had the most beneficial effect on cognition, and that the positive impact was primarily on memory function."
Say it Out Loud
One of the best ways to commit something to memory is to get physically involved in the learning process. By reading out loud or repeating a fact verbally, it's more likely the memory, name, face, or tidbit will stick.
Colin M. MacLeod from the Department of Psychology at Waterloo, says, "When we add an active measure or a production element to a word, that word becomes more distinct in long-term memory, and hence more memorable." Repeating phrases out loud is a different way to present the information to yourself and commit it to your long-term memory.
Get a Good Night's Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Not only does an uninterrupted, solid night of sleep help your body to recharge, it can also help with your brain's memory and cognition. A study published in Physiological Reviews concluded that, "Ensuing REM sleep may stabilize transformed memories."
Sleep was also found to help your brain process memories, which may allow you to keep them for longer. The study found that "Sleep benefits memory not only in the neurobehavioral domain, but also in the formation of immunological long-term memories, stimulating the idea that forming long-term memories represents a general function of sleep."
Yoga is a great way to get your daily exercise and calm your mind. But downward dog can also improve your brain function. Yoga is proven to improve your brain's gray matter, which helps with:
Sensory perceptions, including speech.
A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that participants who practiced yoga for just 20 minutes a day had increased brain function. This resulted in these participants scoring better on brain functioning tests that measured how quickly they could relay information about their memories and how accurate the information was. Adding yoga to your exercise routine may help your memory to stay sharp and your brain functioning clearly.
Meditation can help you get in touch with your inner thoughts, and sometimes that's all you need to feel more confident in your brain power and memory. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease observed participants who attended an 8-week meditation program. "Most subjects reported that they subjectively perceived that their cognitive function was improved after the 8-week program."
Meditation can help to strengthen and exercise the components in your brain that are responsible for memory. By meditating for just 10 minutes per day, you're forcing yourself to practice laser focus and control of your thoughts. This works your mental muscle, keeps your brain young, and may prevent you from dealing with memory loss.
We already know that repeating information we want to remember can help us in the memorization process. Spacing this repetition out in different increments can cater to either your short-term or long-term memory. But if you haven't kept up with your repetition game to put something in your long-term memory bank, you may need to re-learn it.
Re-learning is different than the first time you learn something because your memory may be jogged at any point while you're completing the task. You're not really starting from scratch and you may still have faint memories or information relating to the subject you're trying to re-learn. Therefore, it's easier for this information to "stick."
As Mark Hübener from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology explains, "Since an experience that has been made may occur again at a later point in time, the brain apparently opts to save a few appendages for a rainy day." So, while re-learning may seem like a hassle, you should find it easier than when you reviewed information about a subject for the first time.
Read Every Day
Whether you're into sci-fi, romance novels, or self-help books, the act of reading can keep your brain sharp and memory loss at bay. Since reading engages your brain, keeps it active, and strengthens your cognitive function, just a few minutes every day can help improve your ability to remember things.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. concluded that participants who engaged their brains through puzzles, reading, or chess were 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who participated in less stimulating activities, such as watching TV. When you practice focusing on one activity, such as reading, your brain may also get the same positive effects as if you were meditating, which is proven to help strengthen your memory.
Meet New People
An article published in Psychology Today blames our inability to remember people's names after just meeting them on stress and cortisol. You may be psyching yourself up so much to remember names that you blank out under pressure. Try to combat this stress by focusing on the people you meet instead of your body's reaction to the situation. To remember a new person's name or details, Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D., recommends that you:
Process the name as soon as it's said.
Repeat the name back to the person.
Listen to his or her name correction, if there is one.
The more people you meet, the more you can practice committing these personal details to memory. You can strengthen this part of your brain and eventually, you'll feel more confident about your memory in social situations.
It may seem simple, but a reminder to pay attention can sometimes be all you need to improve your memory. We already know that multitasking makes memorizing and learning less efficient, which is why it's also important to quiet your brain as you attempt to remember or learn something new.
According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), "Attention generally begins as a passive process—the brief unfocused reception of the multitude of molecules and rays that continually bombard our body's specialized sensory receptors with information on the outside environment." Since paying attention starts as a passive process, you'll have to make a conscious effort to forget everything else that's going on and solely focus on the concept you want to learn or remember. You'll know your attention has been captivated when unexpected distractions don't disrupt your focus.
Play Brain Games
Crossword and sudoku puzzles aren't just fun activities to pass time. They may also be able to slow down a decline in memory and cognitive function as you age. Commercial brain game apps on your smartphone or computer have also taken off in popularity and for good reason. According to a study published in Neurology, "More frequent cognitive activity across the lifespan has an association with slower late-life cognitive decline."
The more active you keep your brain, the slower your cognitive decline. But you don't have to study complex math concepts to engage your brain. Glenn Smith, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist at the Mayo Clinic, conducted a study on brain games and geriatric participants with no prior cognitive problems. He had some participants engage in brain games while others simply watched educational videos for an eight-week period.
Mr. Smith found that "Those who completed the computerized training showed significantly greater improvements in general tests of memory and attention, even though those abilities weren't explicitly trained for." Those who participated in the computerized brain games also reported less daily problems with memory in the weeks that followed than study participants who only watched educational videos for the eight weeks.
Teach Other People
You must have a clear understanding of a concept before you can teach it to someone else. So, if you task yourself with reiterating facts about a person you know or your daily schedule to another person, you'll need to first be sure you have a good grip on it.
Teaching is a great way for you to review what you want to remember and can be useful if you're trying to get a memory or concept to stick with you. A study published in Contemporary Educational Psychology used two groups of students to put the concept of teaching as a learning method to the test. Some students were asked to simply study material for a test later while others were asked to study with the intention of teaching other students about the concepts they learned.
While both groups of students learned the material, the students who were tasked with teaching others still remembered these concepts when tested weeks later.
Eat Healthy Foods
A healthy diet not only nourishes your body, but also your mind. Have you ever overindulged on an unhealthy snack, like ice cream or potato chips, and instantly felt slow and groggy? If your body is full of bad food, it can be hard for your brain to focus and retain information. According to Harvard Health, "Diets high in cholesterol and fat might speed up the formation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. These sticky protein clusters are blamed for much of the damage that occurs in the brains of people with Alzheimer's."
If you're eating foods high in saturated and trans fats, a gene called apolipoprotein E, or APOE, may be to blame for your increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. This gene is related to high cholesterol and is found in those diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. While these fats are bad, mono- and polyunsaturated fats may be helpful for preserving memory. To be sure you're getting enough of these memory-boosting fats in your diet, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Stress makes it easy to forget things, usually because you're focused on too many things at once. If you live a life full of stress, you can also be prematurely slowing down your memory performance and brain function. According to a study published in Experimental Gerontology, animals that had prolonged exposure to stress hormones experienced adverse effects on their brain's hippocampus. This is the area of the brain that's associated with memory and learning.
When it comes to humans, it was found that those exposed to several days of stress and increased cortisol experienced memory issues and impairment. Researchers also conclude that extreme stress can make sufferers more likely to develop anxiety or depression disorders. These types of disorders are directly related to a decline in memory loss. If you want to make sure your brain stays sharp, it's important to eliminate daily and chronic stress from your life.
Create Your Own Visuals
Assigning a visual characteristic to something you want to remember can be a great way to keep it accessible. For example, say you're attending a video networking event. You're introduced to a group of people all at the same time. That's six names you've heard while saying "hello"! How do you remember them all? Pick out one defining visual characteristic for each person and associate it with the name he or she told you. Then, when you need to recall the person's name, that characteristic should trigger your memory and the name should come flooding back to you.
You can also create an imaginary visualization. For example, you put your car keys down on the coffee table and obviously need to remember where they are later. Create a visual of your keys dancing on the table and when you need to recall where they are hours later, this vision should come back to you. According to Psychology Today, "It requires mental effort to do this, but if you practice you'll be surprised how quickly you can come up with creative ways to generate these images."
Summarize Into in Your Own Words
Memorizing something that someone else said or wrote can be difficult. In most cases, the way one person communicated information isn't necessarily the way you would have communicated the same information. Also, in most cases, the information given to you is in long-form and can be wordy. If you can summarize it in your own words into brief concepts you understand, it's more likely that you'll remember it longer.
According to The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, summarization can make it easier to retain information and is an important skill to master. "If you are unfamiliar with the material you're analyzing, you may need to summarize what you've read in order to understand your reading and get your thoughts in order." Since summarization forces you to identify only the most important elements, it can be a helpful step in memorization of important facts.
Stick to a Healthy Weight
Dr. Small warns, "People with excess body fat have a greater risk for such illnesses as diabetes and hypertension. These obesity related conditions increase the risk for cerebrovascular disease, which often leads to memory decline and dementia." Maintaining a healthy weight can not only keep your risks for developing certain diseases low, it can also preserve your memory and cognitive abilities.
High-fat diets that include a lot of processed food are known to contribute to memory loss and other unhealthy side effects. However, a study published in Neurology found that diets high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) could help protect against cognitive decline. The study stated, "In an elderly population of Southern Italy with a typical Mediterranean diet, high MUFA intakes appeared to be protective against age-related cognitive decline."
If you want a diet that protects your memory and is also heart-healthy, consider following a Mediterranean diet. This diet emphasizes the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats daily. Limited portions of red meat and dairy are usually eaten on the Mediterranean diet.
Let Go of the Stuff You Don't Need
Your brain will never be so full that it can't take on new information. However, what's the point of filling your brain with stuff you don't need? While it's great to challenge your memory, if you don't necessarily need to memorize something, consider keeping certain information as a note in your smartphone or just letting it go completely.
According to Scientific American, "The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. Neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain's memory storage capacity to something closer to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes)." That's a ton of space! But as we age, information can get cluttered and crossed, making it hard to recall certain memories or tidbits when we need them. Consider "offloading" some of the information you have so you don't feel as much pressure to store it in your brain.
Don't Drink Too Much
Alcohol can have a negative effect on your long-term memory and overindulging can make it nearly impossible to commit facts to memory. If you're heading for a night out but want to remember the new people you meet for a while, keep your drinking to a minimum. If you drink too much alcohol too soon, you may experience the dreaded "blackout." If you have a blackout, you won't remember conversations or actions you took part in the next day.
According to a study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, "Alcohol impairs different brain functions at different rates, and cognitive and memory performance are differentially impaired by ascending versus descending blood alcohol concentration." So, if you drink in rapid succession, you're more likely to experience a blackout.
And you and your friends may not even know you're blacked out at the time because there usually aren't any physical symptoms. "Cognitive and memory impairment occurs before motor impairment, possibly explaining how a drinker appearing fully functional can have little subsequent memory." If you want to remember your night out, take it easy on the booze.
But Maybe Drink a Little
While getting black-out drunk is obviously bad for your memory, light to moderate alcohol consumption may be linked with a lower risk of developing memory loss. A study published in Lancet used 7,983 study participants who were 55 years of age or older and showed no signs of dementia or memory loss. Some of these participants didn't drink alcohol at all or drank heavily, while some lightly or moderately consumed alcohol. In a follow-up with these participants six years later, it was confirmed that, "Light-to-moderate drinking (one to three drinks per day) was significantly associated with a lower risk of any dementia."
The reason alcohol protects the brain from the effects of dementia isn't fully understood. However, Dr. Small hypothesizes that "it may involve an antiplatelet effect that lowers the blood's tendency to clot and cause tissue damage." The study also showed that the type of alcoholic beverage consumed had no differential effects on the outcome.
Associate Facts with Movements
If you want to memorize something, it can be tempting to sit down and think about it. After all, you want to eliminate as many distractions as possible so you can focus on committing something to your long-term memory. But many studies have shown that actually moving around is better for your memory than sitting in one spot.
An article published in Frontiers in Psychology confirms the importance of getting your body involved with your mind. "Embodied cognition approach suggests that motor output is integral to cognition, and the converging evidence of multiple avenues of research further indicate that the role of our body in memory processes may be much more prevalent than previously believed." If you're trying to memorize facts or a long list of items, walking while studying may be more beneficial than sitting still.
Record Your Voice
If you think you're an auditory learner, you learn best by hearing information. A study published in Current Health Sciences Journal claims that about 30% of the population learns best through listening. According to this study, auditory learners "require verbal lectures and discussions, role-playing exercises, structured sessions and reading aloud. In other words, written information may have little meaning until it is heard."
So, if you're studying a written list of grocery items or a group of people's names, you may find it hard to memorize on paper. Instead, record yourself reading the information you want to remember. You can easily do this on your smartphone or computer. Play your audio back as frequently as possible and focus on what you're saying or repeat it back to yourself. With this technique, it can be easier to commit information to memory.
Physical activity is proven to keep your brain sharp, making it easier to remember things. Not only is daily exercise great for your body and can ward off chronic conditions and diseases, it may also help you remember to stop by the post office tomorrow or wish your cousin a happy birthday. According to Dr. Small, "A recent study of healthy adults between ages 60 and 75 found that mental tasks involved in executive control—monitoring, scheduling, planning, inhibition, and memory—improved in a group taking aerobic exercise but not in a control group."
A study published in Psychology and Aging found that study participants showed an improvement in memory and cognitive processing after only a 15-minute exercise session. If you want to keep your memory on point, add exercise to your daily routine.
Go to School
Education can help you to develop learning and memory strategies. With coursework, you're forced to quickly determine your favored learning method and work on focusing so you can succeed. If you had the ability to figure out how you learn best when you're younger, you may find it easier when you're older to memorize a phone number or the names of your colleagues at a new job.
Skimping out on your education not only makes it harder to develop these learning skills, it can also increase your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. A study published in the Journals of Gerontology found, "Case-control analyses with prevalent cases showed low education to be a risk for Alzheimer's disease." In this study, "low education" participants were those who had six years or less of schooling. Use your school experiences to tap into the learning methods that work for you so you can keep your memory sharp.
Make a List
Have you noticed the increasing popularity of lists as a way to provide information? (You're reading one!)
Your brain can more easily retain concepts when they're organized and a list can help your brain to feel it's looking at information that isn't overwhelming. An article published in Psychology and Information confirms that there is a "Human tendency to locate information spatially." The way information is organized and where it is on the page may be directly related to your ability to understand and remember it.
If you're trying to memorize a chunk of information, your brain may not know where to go first. Consider re-organizing it into a list, maybe even a numbered list, so you can focus on one thing first, another thing second, and so on.
Understand the Context of What You're Memorizing
If you just need to keep a few facts, names, or tidbits in your head for a bit, you should be able to get away with using memorization tactics. However, if you're looking for something to stick in your long-term memory, you'll have to delve deeper and try to understand the context of the information.
An article published in Higher Education discusses the differences between learning information through memorization and learning through context. "Using a deep approach a student has the intention to understand. Information may be remembered, but this is viewed as an almost unintentional by-product."
To understand the context of a fact, you'll need to read it and relate it to the world. Instead of simply trying to memorize names, dates, or numbers associated with the information, applying it to your life and knowledge of the world can better help you to achieve the context.
Make it a Priority
If remembering something is important to you, make it a priority. Prepare yourself to focus on what you need to remember and don't let distractions get in your way.
For example, if you're attending a social event and your priority is to make new friends, focus on getting attendees' names and personal tidbits and making them stick in your brain. Don't let the environment or your inner thoughts take you away from listening and remembering what you're learning about your new acquaintances. If you can identify the information as a priority that you want to remember and can keep other thoughts or distractions at bay, you're more likely to maintain focus and commit these tidbits to your long-term memory.
Take Ibuprofen (Only if You Already Are)
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are found in ibuprofen and are what can help stop your aches, pains, or headaches. Some studies also show that a small daily dose of these NSAIDs can ward off the onset of Alzheimer's disease. A study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience claims, "Meta-analysis demonstrated that current or former NSAID use was significantly associated with reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease compared with those who did not use NSAIDs."
However, most doctors don't recommend starting an ibuprofen regimen just to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease since the results simply aren't significant enough to outweigh the risks. If you're already taking ibuprofen regularly for another ailment, such as arthritis, you may also be decreasing your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease. But there are other negative side effects associated with daily ibuprofen use, such as stomach bleeding. So don't start taking it every day unless you've been instructed to by your doctor.
Smoking can increase your risk for developing serious chronic conditions and deadly diseases, including cancer and heart disease. But this bad habit can also negatively affect your memory. A study published in Neurology linked smoking directly to the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
The study concluded that "Smokers had double the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease than people who never smoked." Smoking increases your risk for memory loss as your body ages. However, if you quit smoking, no matter what age you are, you can instantly reduce your risk.
Figure Out Your Learning Method
Everyone has their own way of remembering details. You may be able to remember things better when you can visually see them while another person may find it easier to remember concepts after hearing about them orally. The only way to figure out which senses trigger your memory is to try out different learning methods.
According to the Center for Learning and Development, you should try out several learning and memory methods, such as relational learning or acronyms. While you may be able to identify one learning method that seems to work best for you, certain concepts may be better memorized using a different learning method, so you'll need to be open. For example, you may respond best to relational learning. However, if you're attempting to remember all the U.S. state capitals, you may find it easier to use a rhyming method to jog your memory. And to get through life at your healthiest, don't miss: This Supplement Can Raise Your Cancer Risk, Experts Say.