1. Keep Learning
A lot of research has found that education provides some protection from waning mental function. The theory is that people with more education have a greater cognitive reserve, basically something of an extra buffer against the effects of decline. But it's a bit of a double-edged sword. "People who are more highly educated tend to get Alzheimer's at a later age but once they get it, they're getting it at a higher load of the disease and appear to decline at a faster rate," says Verghese.
2. Do A Crossword
3. Ignore Negativity
Stereotype threat occurs when a person is in a situation where they are anxious that they may conform to a negative stereotype aimed at his or her social group. Stereotype threat stemming from beliefs about age and memory loss can hinder the performance of middle-ages and older people on memory tests. However, positive stereotypes, or success on previous memory tasks, can help combat this negativity. Oddly enough, stereotype threat has also been shown to improve performance when tasks are focused on losses rather than gains.
4. Use All Of Your Senses
Sensory memory consists of iconic (visual), echoic (auditory) and haptic (touch-related) memory and is usually very short-term. Yet studies – often stemming from marketing research – have shown that involving multiple senses, like the picture of a flower with a floral scent, enhances people's ability to memorize what their senses are taking in.
6. Don't Multitask
Many of us may prize ourselves on our multitasking prowess but science generally shows that splitting our attention is more problematic than productive. One studylooking at working memory -- quick storage of information -- had younger and older adults perform recognition tests with or without interruptions. They found that adults of all ages get sidetracked by interferences but that older adults have a harder time refocusing after they've been distracted.
7. Spaced Interval Repetition
If you've ever had to memorize something, you are probably familiar with spaced interval repetition (SIR). SIR is a learning technique that uses repeated testing over increasing intervals until it whatever you're trying to memorize finally sticks. So you test yourself a lot at first, then less and less over time. It sounds really basic but SIR is a well-supported way to get the most out of your memory – and a reason there are so many new smartphone apps that follow this technique.
9. Eat Right
There is a well-documented link between what we eat and how our brains function. One study showed that putting rats on a high sugar diet for a mere six weeks impaired their cognitive functioning. Being overweight has also been tied to increases in mental health problems. If you just can't get enough of your high-fructose corn syrup, the researchers also found that consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- like salmon, walnuts and soybeans -- may help counter sugar's brain drain.