Fact or Myth: Does Age Affect Your Memory?

This is a MYTH.

Mind over matter is one of the oldest sayings…and now it is backed by science. If you “think old” you may very well “become old” faster than you should; but how to improve your memory so you don’t “become old”.

As you grow older, maintaining confidence about yourself and your abilities may have broad-reaching effects on your cognitive and memory skills.

Positive Thinking Protects Your Memory

Research compiled by North Carolina State University and led by psychology professor Dr. Tom Hess showed that telling senior citizens they would perform badly on memory tests became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When told other participants their age did well on certain tests, they did, too. In other words, how they perceived “people their age” to be typically typecast directly impacted their performance.

The effects were particularly high in those participants with more education and whose sense of self-worth hinged on their ability to remember things. how to improve your memory

Hess explained, “The take-home message is that social factors may have a negative effect on older adults’ memory performance.”

Ageism is a growing problem, especially as the elderly members of our society find themselves remaining in the work force longer and living longer than ever before.

Do You Feel Your Age?

Purdue University published a study in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences conducted by research leader Markus H. Schafer, a doctoral student in sociology and gerontology. Dr. Schafer stated, “If you feel old beyond your own chronological years you are probably going to experience a lot of the downsides that we associate with aging.

But if you…maintain a sense of being younger, then that gives you an edge in maintaining a lot of the abilities you prize.”

If you feel younger, you convince your mind and body you are younger.

The difference lies in chronological age (how old you are) and subjective age (how old you feel). Over ten years, Purdue surveyed almost 500 people between 55 and 74 years old. “These people who felt young for their age were more likely to have greater confidence about their cognitive abilities a decade later. Chronological age was important, but the subjective age had a stronger effect,” Schafer told the Journal.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Do you feel older than you are?
  • Do you dwell on your age?
  • Do you obsess about “losing” your youth?

Women are more at risk of feeling older than they actually are because much of their self-worth is based on their inner belief in their physical attractiveness. Since females, as a group, tend to have greater pressure to maintain a youthful appearance, women tend to be less confident as they age.

Feeling Young = Staying Young

The good news is that our fast-paced modern world – with its emphasis on staying young – may encourage members of the older generations to engage in experiences that help keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you have to try skydiving or get piercings.

How to Improve Your Memory: 10 Ways to Keep Your Brain & Body Young

  1. Consider going back to school and learning something that interests you.
  2. Challenge yourself with regular “brain games.”
  3. Learn a new language.
  4. Get plenty of sleep every night.
  5. Stay as active as physically possible.
  6. Take up hobbies you’ve always wanted to try.
  7. Tutor a subject to reinforce your own knowledge.
  8. Interact often with people who inspire positive thinking.
  9. Use photos, word association and written notes to aid memory recall.
  10. Eat memory-enhancing foods that include eggs, fatty fish and leafy greens that feed your brain!

Avoid negative thinkers who may plant seeds of doubt in your mind about what you “can” or “should” be doing at whatever age you happen to be. Limit your alcohol consumption since it is not only a depressant but can also affect your memory when overdone.

Staying optimistic is the key to feeling like you have control of your life. Let go of the little things and seize every moment!