15 Ways to Boost Your Memory in Your 30s, 40s, 50s, and Beyond

Trying chopsticks, a Rubik’s cube, or a Wii could be simple, fun ways to stay sharp for life.

The 50s Plus
Use chopsticks
“Studies show that engaging the concentrated areas of nerve cells in your fingertips directly stimulates your brain,” says Maoshing Ni, PhD, author of Second Spring: Dr. Maos Hundreds of Natural Secrets for Women to Revitalize and Regenerate at Any Age. Truth is, any fingertip activity—using chopsticks, knitting, or even rolling a pen or pencil between your fingers—also helps your brain by boosting your circulation. And good circulation helps eliminate waste products that can prevent nutrients from reaching your brain.

Play electronic games
No, youre not too old for a Wii or one of the new handheld brain-exercise games. And it may even be good for you, since simply trying something new gets your brain juiced, says neuropsychologist Reon Baird, PhD, of the Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. “When that something new is a video game, youll stimulate different parts of the brain that you dont normally use on a day-to-day basis,” she says. Try Brain Challenge for the Wii or Brain Age for the Nintendo DS. If thats too techy for you, play along with Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy! on TV, Dr. Baird says. Challenge your know-it-all spouse to make it more fun.

Be careful with meds
If you ache every time you work out and never sleep well due to night sweats, theres a pill for that. But be careful: Research in Clinical Interventions in Aging reveals that nonprescription sleep aids may cause some “cognitive impairment”—like confusion— in older adults. How much is unknown, but youre probably familiar with the next-day grogginess. And the medicine known as diphenhydramine (found in many allergy medications and nighttime pain pills) has an “anticholinergic” effect; it blocks communication between nerve cells. Talk with your doctor about other remedies like relaxation or cognitive therapy for sleep problems.

Best brain foods for everyone!
Studies suggest that natural chemicals in these foods, spices, and drinks combat cognitive decline.

  • Asparagus

  • Blueberries

  • Cocoa

  • Coffee

  • Egg yolks

  • Indian curry

  • Red wine

  • Rosemary

  • Salmon

  • Tomato sauce

  • Walnuts

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Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
Last Updated: August 24, 2009

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