Short term memory loss can create some awkward situations. If you're having difficulty remembering the name of someone you just met yesterday - or frequently find yourself on a frantic search for your lost cell phone —you know how frustrating it can be.
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Unlike long term memory, which stretches decades into the past, short term memory is more closely related to activities of daily living: paying bills, recalling names, and remembering where you set the keys just a moment ago. Lapses in short term memory can be frustrating - so let's look at some easy preventative measures.
First of all, what causes short term memory loss?
Many people associate lapses in memory or attention with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. And though Alzheimer's is a common cause of memory loss, it's not the only culprit. In fact, the National Institute on Aging (NIH) describes some other common contributing causes of short term memory loss:
- Age-related. Simply put, increasing forgetfulness is a natural part of aging.
- Medical conditions. Side effects from medication can cause temporary increased forgetfulness, as can medical conditions like tumors and blood clots. Even missing out on important vitamins and minerals in your diet can impact memory.
- Emotional issues. Researchers have found that people can suffer short term memory problems as a result of emotional problems like anxiety and depression. Sad recent events, like the loss of a loved one or pet, can also trigger temporary issues.
- Lack of stimulation. Feeling boredom or a lack of stimulation — not using your mind to its fullest extent — can also contribute to memory issues.
4 Ways to Prevent & Fight Short Term Memory Loss
Short term memory loss can occur due to uncontrollable circumstances like dementia or Alzheimer's, but there are definitely some ways you can prevent or fight against the feeling that your memories are slipping away.
Challenge Your Mind — Games, Hobbies, Reading, & Learning
According to Harvard Health, one of the best things you can do to prevent memory loss and cognitive decline is to simply challenge your mind to keep learning. Researchers believe that consistently keeping your brain active can actually help stimulate your brain cells and strengthen neural communication.
So this means that you have the perfect excuse to learn something new and exciting. For example, if you've always wanted to learn how to work with watercolors, now is a perfect time to challenge yourself to learn to paint. Have you always wanted to learn another language? Now's the time to take an introductory French class to keep your mind sharp. Study topics that fascinate you, try to read books from new authors, and play challenging card games or board games with friends.
Check up on Your Health & Medications
The NIH explains that certain medical conditions and even dietary issues can contribute to short term memory loss. It's important to prevent these issues before they worsen and become more difficult to treat. So if you're noticing a dip in your memory, you might want to try the following:
- Check Medication. Talk to your doctor about any new medication you've been taking. Is there any indication that it's causing a reaction and impacting your memory?
- Diet. You might also want to talk about your diet with a doctor and make sure you're getting important nutrients like Vitamin B-12 in your daily life. Are you eating a diet with too much processed sugar? Recent studies suggest that too much sugar in the diet can negatively impact memory.
- Overall Health. Did you know that medical conditions like uncontrolled diabetes can contribute to memory loss? Help keep your mind and body at peak condition by focusing on your health.
Regular Exercise — Walk Your Way to Better Memory
According to Harvard Health, exercise does all kinds of amazing things in our brains: it boosts circulation, reduces inflammation, and preserves the health of your brain cells. And you don't have to spend hours at the gym to achieve results. It turns out that even a brisk hour-long walk, twice a week, can work wonders for the memory.
Walking also presents a wonderful opportunity to keep your mind active. Seeing new sights, meeting new people, and sharing a walk with your friends is a great way to stay entertained and well-exercised at the same time.
Prioritize your Social Life: Friends, Family, and Fun
The AARP highlights the incredible link between socializing and healthy brain function. In essence, staying social (through book clubs, volunteering, classes, communal dinners, etc.) keeps us sharp. In fact, one California study of more than 2,000 women over the age of 78 showed that maintaining large social networks helped to keep cognitive decline at bay.
Making time for friends, family, and fun is one of the most important things you can do to protect your memory. Conversations with others can help keep you sharp and challenge your mind. Social events give you something to look forward to, and can help keep you positive and upbeat. If you're feeling the effects of memory loss, try to incorporate more activities that involve spending time with loved ones — or even making new friendships!
At Cadbury Park, our goal is to offer creative and compassionate ways to improve lifelong learning, health, and happiness. We specialize in providing state-of-the-art cognitive care, encouraging new learning opportunities, and providing the very best in memory care and assisted living.