9 Tricks to Boost Your Memory

Try These Steps ...

Misplaced your keys? Forgot someone’s name? Can’t remember what you were supposed to pick up at the grocery store? Don’t worry; memory impairment is common as we age and usually is not a sign of a serious neurological disorder. But it can be frustrating and embarrassing. Here are nine strategies to try.

1. Place commonly lost items in a designated spot

If you’re prone to losing certain items, such as keys or eyeglasses, pick a spot and always put the items there when you are not using them.

2. Write things down

If you have trouble remembering phone numbers or appointments, write them down and place the list in a conspicuous spot. Making a daily “to do” list will remind you of important tasks and obligations. The simple acts of writing notes and making lists reinforce memory.

3. Say words out loud

Saying “I’ve turned off the stove” after doing so will give you an extra verbal reminder when you later try to recall whether the stove is still on. Incorporating people’s names into the conversation immediately after you have met them serves the same purpose. For example, saying “Very nice to meet you, Jennifer” will help consolidate your memory of the name.

4. Use memory aids

Use a pocket notepad, cell phone, wristwatch alarm, voice recorder, or other aids to help remember what you need to do or to keep track of information.

5. Use mental images

When learning new information, such as a person’s name, create a visual image in your mind to make the information more vivid and, therefore, more memorable. For example, if you’ve just been introduced to a Mr. Hackman, visualize him hacking his way through a dense jungle with a machete.

6. Group items using mnemonics

A mnemonic is any technique used to help you remember. For example, when memorizing lists, names, addresses and so on, try alphabetizing them or grouping them as an acronym—a word made from the first letters of a series of words. Another technique is an acrostic. Use the first letter of each item to create new words that form a sentence (for example, “Every good boy does fine” helps you remember the order of the treble-clef line notes on sheet music: E, G, B, D, F).

7. Concentrate and relax

Many environmental stimuli compete for your attention at any given time. To remember something, concentrate on the items to be remembered. Pay close attention to new information and try to avoid or block out distractions. It is also beneficial to relax. Anxiety and stress can inhibit recall. Slowing down and relaxing when trying to remember information really can make a difference.


8. Get plenty of sleep

During sleep the brain consolidates and firms up newly acquired information. Studies indicate that people are better at remembering recently learned information the next day if they have had a good night’s sleep.


9. Rule out other causes of memory loss

If you suspect that you are having memory difficulties, consult your doctor. Some medical conditions and certain other factors can cause memory problems that can be corrected. These include depression, hearing or vision loss, thyroid dysfunction, certain medications, vitamin deficiencies, and stress. Treating these problems may improve your memory.

Meet Our Writer

HealthAfter50 was published by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, providing up-to-date, evidence-based research and expert advice on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of a wide range of health conditions affecting adults in middle age and beyond. It was previously part of Remedy Health Media's network of digital and print publications, which also include HealthCentral; HIV/AIDS resources The Body and The Body Pro; the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter; and the Berkeley Wellness website. All content from HA50 merged into Healthcentral.com in 2018.