Your Memory Can Improve With Age: 5 Tips For Reliable Recall

All sorts of memory myths exist. They suggest that either you have it or you don’t. "I’m not good with names. I have a lousy memory. You’re so forgetful." If you’re not careful, having a terrible memory can become the running joke in your life.

But the truth is that memory is a skill. It’s learned and practiced. It can improve with age. Here’s how to master your memory now.

1. Watch What You Eat

The excessive saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol consumption that come standard in the Standard American Diet (SAD) negatively impact long-term memory and cognitive function. 

Swap the less healthy foods for whole foods, mostly plants that are nutrient-dense with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Around the world, diets rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish have been shown to protect the brain from memory loss and enhance memory function. 

2. Exercise for Long and Short-term Memory Improvements

Exercising delivers instant, short-term memory results. Get your blood pumping before a big test or job interview to improve your memory recall and performance. It does this both by reducing stress and increasing oxygen to memory centers. 

Over the long term, regular aerobic exercise increases the size of the hippocampus and the production of new neurons (brain cells) that form learning and memory pathways in the brain.

Both depression and aging can shrink the hippocampus. But exercise appears to stop and reverse this effect.

3. Develop Effective Stress Response

Stress doesn’t happen to you. Stress is how your body, mind, and emotions respond to a stressor. Learn and practice how you react to stress with deep breathing, counting to 10, and other stress management strategies.

High stress impairs higher cognitive functions like memory. And studies show managing it improves episodic memory.

Episodic memory is remembering what happened correctly. This reduces your risk of falling for gaslighting behaviors where someone tells you you’re "remembering it wrong".

4. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep plays a vital role in concentration, short-term memory learning, long-term memory storage, and memory recall later when needed. Lack of sleep can even change your perception of an event which could create false memories. 

To master memory, it looks like first, you need to secure your ZZZs.

5. Practice Good Memory Technique

With the above four in place, it’s time to focus on how people remember. Memory is not a complete log of your life. The brain only remembers what it thinks is important at that moment. It discards the rest—within a few minutes.

So, if you can’t remember names or where you parked, you’re likely not indicating to your brain that this is important. This often happens because you’re focused on something else, such as a bad past experience or a screaming child. So, learning to practice mindfulness at any moment helps. 

Try this Mindful Memory Mastery technique. Regardless of what you need to remember, follow these four quick steps:

  1. Take a moment to make associations.
  2. Organize information in your mind.
  3. Say important details aloud. 
  4. Actively recall the thing you want to remember a couple of minutes later. 

You just told the brain, "This is important. Remember it!". The brain takes note and stores this memory somewhere you can recall it later. This is how to master your memory.