Is it possible to improve your memory? Many of the most effective ways involve actions you can begin today.

Everybody wants to preserve their memories because they are a significant part of our identities. When we lose them, we feel like we are losing pieces of ourselves.

Additionally, having a good memory serves many practical functions in our daily lives. Our memory helps us accomplish both basic and complex tasks.

Older adults who take proactive steps to prevent memory loss are often more adaptable, independent, and satisfied during their senior years.

The brain can change, collect new information, create new neural connections, and store important information in long-term memory. We can also improve or maintain our short-term memory by developing good habits and seeking out new learning opportunities.

Seniors have success with easy and practical memory-enhancing methods. Here are some examples:


Chunking: When trying to memorize a long sequence of numbers or a long list of words or items, break them down into smaller groupings. It also helps to group items by category, bundling them into easier-to-manage chunks of information.


Acrostics and acronyms: Create a short poem from a word or sequence of letters you need to remember. For example, when I learned to read music, the space notes spelled F A C E, and the lines were E G B D F for the acrostic “Every Good Boy Does Fine.”

Acronyms serve a similar purpose. For example, geography students are often taught to use the acronym “HOMES” to remember the five Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.


Planning and organization: Keep a notebook or day planner handy with a calendar and plenty of space for writing down various activities and appointments.

At the beginning of each week, create a list of things you’ll be doing in the days ahead. Then, each day, make a detailed to-do list. If you are comfortable with technology, a smartphone or digital tablet can be your planner.


Talking out loud: Just as writing information down helps our brains put information into long-term memory, so does talking about it.

So, to avoid forgetting why you’ve entered a room, tell yourself where you’re going while on the way there. Or, to remember more complex information, try explaining it to someone else.


Cues and reminders: Give yourself visual or auditory prompts to help you remember what you need to do. From Post-it notes to alarms, it’s easy to use these simple reminders. Just place them where you’re most likely to see or hear them.

Also, do your best to leave essential objects in prominent locations related to the tasks you have to do. I always place my keys on a small table near the door.

Additionally, I have lost track of my phone numerous times, so I have found that if I only place it in three locations, my search area narrows, and I am more likely to locate it.


Keep challenging yourself: Mental stimulation is vital. However, to improve your memory, you need to do more than what you are already good at.

The more you challenge your brain, the more you can enhance your memory. So, finding hobbies or activities that keep you challenged and mentally engaged is essential.

But remember that you also need to feel joy when you do them and have a clear path for building upon what you learn as your skills become more advanced.

For example, a lot of older adults benefit from learning how to speak new languages, conducting genealogy research, cooking gourmet meals, or identifying various species of plants or birds.


Stay optimistic about your future and know that the mind you want might be achievable with just a few simple adjustments to your current lifestyle.


Nancy J. Schaaf, a retired RN, worked as a school nurse, a nurse supervisor at a men’s prison, and a health educator. She earned her BSN at Edinboro University. She is a freelance writer whose health articles appear in magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. She can be reached at

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