3 Simple Steps to Rev Up Your Recall

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No idea where your keys are? Drawing a blank on your neighbor’s name? These and other of life’s forgetful moments are not — we repeat not — brought to you by a mind that’s slipping.

Rather, these kinds of memory lapses are a sign that you’re speeding through your day without noticing the small stuff. This lack of attention makes it tough for you to retrieve information later. But you can zap memory lapses with a few simple strategies. Here’s a sample:

  • Take a mental picture. Our brains are hardwired to remember images. The next time you meet a new acquaintance or park your car at the airport, try the Look-Snap-Connect technique, suggests psychiatrist Gary Small, director of the University of California, Los Angeles, Longevity Center.

    Here’s how it works: Look closely at the person or space. Make a mental snapshot. Now file it away by connecting it to something familiar. For example, picture your new neighbor, Charlie Singer, as Charlie Brown singing a carol.
  • Make a template. This helps for remembering passwords. Start with a meaningful word-number combo, like the name of your dog and the year you graduated. Then tack on the initials of the website. You'll remember it, but a hacker won’t be able to guess it.
  • Create a routine. Toss your keys in a basket or hang them on a hook — every single time you come home. Routine is a friend to memory, reinforcing crucial neural connections in your brain.

Take a brain-health assessment, play games, discover new recipes and more with AARP’s Staying Sharp

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

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