Unless gifted with a photographic memory, humans tend to forget things, like where keys were left, where a car was parked, phone numbers, grocery store items and everyday tasks that just slip the mind.
While the brain is not a muscle, it should be treated like one. Staying engaged and mentally stimulated can help sustain memory or mitigate memory loss, helping to eliminate frustrating periods of forgetfulness. According to information from Heather Winn, family and consumer science educator at the OSU Cooperative Extension Service, the brain needs socialization, mental stimulation, physical activity, nutrition and sleep.
"Socializing provides opportunities for communication, critical thought, creativity, and emotional expression," said Winn. "It can also play a role in boosting personal meaning and identity. People who isolate or segregate themselves are at greater risk of developing depression and dementia."
People can keep in touch with family and friends, stay connected with the local community through social networks, and get to know their neighbors to socialize. Even using the internet can help introduce people to new friends and reconnect them with old ones.
To stay sharp, people can exercise their brain through a series of mentally stimulating activities. This could come in the form of games and puzzles, reading and writing, or pursing education. The more challenging the activity, the more mental fitness people can gain. Hobbies, such as painting, sculpting, playing an instrument, or anything that requires hand-eye coordination can help break a mental sweat, as can exposure to new environments.
"Whether you take a trip or drive a different route to work, new environments are good for the brain," sad Winn. "New environments are enriching because they can be exciting and they challenge the brain to process new information."
Getting the blood pumping is also essential to a healthy brain. As people engage in physical exercise, their heart pumps more blood to the brain. Those who stay active physically may notice better decision making, focus, and conflict resolution skills. Those who are obese tend to have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
What people consume can also have an impact on their brain health.
"Nutrition plays a large role in brain development and function throughout life," according to Winn. "A brain-healthy diet can help reduce the risk of chronic age-related brain diseases, including Alzheimer's disease."
People should go for foods high in antioxidants, as they include nutrients that can prevent and even repair natural cell damage. Berries, cocoa, apples, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, onions, walnuts, pecans, carrots, sweet potatoes and raw garlic all tend to have a high amount of antioxidants. Also, eating too much added sugar can create health issues like cognitive decline, as can alcohol consumption.
Getting the appropriate amount of sleep can be tough for some people who are constantly on the go, but it can play an important role in one's memory bank. To get a better night's rest, people should eat a well-balanced diet and try setting regular bedtime and waking hours. It is also suggested that people avoid reading or watching TV while in bed, and exercising within a few hours of bedtime.