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Planning Retirement Online

New Year - New Memories

Make 2014 a year to remember by improving your memory and reducing the risk of dementia. Using memory games and techniques, as well as eating the right food, can help the elderly boost the power and health of their brain.


Everyone suffers from memory lapses from time to time, regardless of their age or health. Who hasn't popped their card into a cash machine, only for their pin number to suddenly become irretrievable from their memory bank? Even remembering the name of someone you just met or where you parked your car can at times prove tricky, not to mention a little scary if you fall into the old age category.

Sometimes the loss of memory can indicate the start of dementia, at which point elderly sufferers may benefit from the support and safety provided by care homes. Memory loss, however, is not an inevitable consequence of growing old, so check out our helpful guide to improving your memory in 2014.

Memory games

Keeping your brain active is an important part of maintaining a strong memory, which is why quick memory techniques and games can be of great benefit to the elderly.

One such technique is known as 'Mnemonics', a word which in itself can be difficult to remember. The concept, however, is to encode information in order to make it easier to recall. Our brain uses images, colours, sounds and tastes to store information, but finds it harder to store written words. So instead, try your hand at associating information with colours, rhymes or music. There's a reason why adverts feature popular jingles and tunes – because people remember them better. So the next time you're out shopping, try fitting a few items from your list into a jingle and repeat it over and over in your head.

Another effective technique is to simply challenge yourself in day to day situations. For example, make a point of paying special attention to a TV news bulletin. Once it's finished, test yourself by giving a quick recap of each story. You may want to keep a pack of chewing gum handy for that one, as chewing gum has been found to improve a person's short term memory.

Alternatively, you can test yourself with various online games designed to test your short term memory.

Food for thought

Open any newspaper or magazine on any given day, and you're likely to come across at least one article relating to diets and healthy eating. Whilst the focus is often on food that helps prevent diseases, it is equally important to ensure you have a regular intake of 'brain food'.

Here's a look at some foods and vitamins that can help enhance your brain power, as well as the types which can have a detrimental effect on your memory if over-consumed.

  • Fruit and vegetables: It may seem like the classic solution to any health problem, but introducing a variety of fruit and vegetables into your diet can do wonders for your memory. Fruit and veg are high on antioxidants, which help strengthen your brain cells and thus minimise the risk of damage. Bananas, apricots, spinach and broccoli are particularly effective and can easily be slotted into recipes and salads.
  • Don't forget your Omega-3s: Omega-3 is a 'fatty acid' commonly found in fish and egg oils, and studies suggest they can help reduce the risk of dementia as well as boost the overall health of your brain. Fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are high in Omega-3, but kidney beans, spinach, walnuts and broccoli are also good alternatives.
  • Alcohol and saturated fats: As well as food that helps boost your brain power, there are also certain products which can have an adverse effect on your memory. Saturated fats have been proven to increase the risk of dementia and have a negative effect on concentration and memory. As with any balanced diet, it's important to keep an eye on your saturated fat intake from foods such as red meat, butter and cheese. Alcohol, meanwhile, should also be consumed in moderation as it has been known to kill brain cells. A glass of wine a day, however, has shown to improve memory in some cases. Moderation, as ever, is key.


What are your best tips and techniques for improving your memory?



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