Simple lifestyle changes including a healthy diet, physical fitness, stress reduction and memory exercises can improve memory -- at any age. Scott Hagwood incorporates these ideas into his life and a new book called Memory Power. Hagwood, who was told that treatments for thyroid cancer would cause him to lose his memory, took control and developed memory-building techniques. He recovered from cancer with his memory intact.
Hagwood says an important first step to developing memory is reading. "When you read you are maximizing your short-term memory," he says. "You have to remember from one sentence to the next, one page to the next. Also, it might take us a week or so to read a novel. So, we are exercising our long-term memory, and we are also developing something called our 'working memory,' which is our ability to juggle lots of information at one time."
Hagwood also suggests writing a daily journal. "When you write something that happened at the end of the day, you are improving that mental eye," he says. "So you are sitting down at the end of the day and thinking, what kinds of things happened? And so you are developing this mental picture inside your mind and also you know what you naturally remember."
Hagwood says that good sleep and diet also help, as does relaxation. Stress, he says, is the number-one memory killer. "People don't give that enough credit. Think about how many times we get stressed, 'Oh my gosh, I should remember that person's name or I forgot such and such.'" Stress, he says is usually the reason people forget those details.