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Like a lot of people in their 50s, I’ve had my fair share of memory glitches I’ll just call “senior moments.”
The big one for me is losing my keys. And I have to admit, it was concerning at first.
I couldn’t help but wonder if I was experiencing something more than forgetfulness…
But truth be told, the times I misplaced my keys I was doing something “extra” most of the time, like carrying groceries into the house, chatting with a neighbor who caught me as I drove up or rushing inside to feed my hungry cats because I got home late.
All of this does beg the question, however… when is forgetfulness a sign of something more serious, like cognitive decline?
Let me share what I learned — as well as a simple trick that researchers say can help you restore lost memories, so the next time you have a senior moment like mine and say, “Dang it, I lost my keys again,” you won’t have to worry…
Plain old forgetfulness versus a real concern
Here’s the good news…
Mild memory loss doesn’t necessarily mean you’re headed for dementia. The research says that only one percent of people over age 65 with age-related memory issues will end up with dementia each year.
Most of the time, misplacing an item or forgetting an appointment is more likely due to just having a lot on your mind. Think about it…
Computers, smartphones and the internet mean a constant stream of information is coming at us from every direction. And at this point in our lives, we have a lot to keep up with… health and dental appointments (not just for me—but my husband and kids too), scheduled gym time, family or friend time — you get the idea.
So if your brain gets a little overloaded processing it all, don’t beat yourself up.
Now if you begin forgetting to do something, like regularly paying your bills, or struggle with how to do a familiar task, follow directions or use your remote control — it’s time to talk with a family member or someone you trust, and ultimately your doctor.
Otherwise, let me share what finally helped me find my keys — and cut down on losing them at all…
Retracing your steps works for forgetfulness
According to researchers, there’s a simple trick that puts your brain’s tendency to create event boundaries to work to solve memory issues.
Did you ever misplace something as a child and your mom tell you to think about where you had it last — and retrace your steps to find it?
That works because our brain likes that format…
“Intuitively, we perceive structure in the form of events in continuous experience. A ‘restaurant visit’ and a ‘train ride’ are examples of such events,” says researcher Sebastian Michelmann. “When one event ends and another begins, people perceive an event boundary, and human observers agree substantially on the exact moments when an event boundary happens.”
These event boundaries can be used as stepping stones to retrace events and improve the recall of certain facts and bits of information.
“When people search through continuous memories, they can do that slowly and thoroughly, but they can also skip ahead to the next event boundary when they decide that the answer that they are looking for is not in the current event,” Michelmann says. “Event boundaries are important access points for this skipping, which is why we refer to them as stepping stones in the memory search process.”
Put simply, retracing your steps works! But it’s not the only way I boosted my memory…
Nootropics: When your brain just needs a boost
Nootropics are cognitive enhancers that help boost your memory performance. They typically work by improving the way the brain communicates and processes information — via neurotransmitters. Or they help dampen things that can occur in the body that interfere with that process.
I’ve found three that I like to stack (use together because they tackle different features that can impact my memory)…
Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ). It supports cognitive function because of its antioxidant abilities to fend off free radicals and dampen inflammation. A big plus is that it also supports mitochondria — the tiny power plants in every cell — and the brain is your body’s most power-hungry organ!
Krill oil. DHA and EPA are two powerful brain-supporting omega-3 fatty acids and krill helps you use them best. Krill is high in phospholipids which increase the bioavailability of the omega-3s. Krill also contains a powerful antioxidant — astaxanthin — capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier.
Phosphatidylserine (PS). PS is a key building block for the brain. It’s found in high concentrations in neurons — or brain cells. Like anything else though, with age, it dwindles in amount.
If you’d like to cut down on those senior moments, remember to give these tips a try!