Senior Living Blog

Spring Cleaning for Your Brain

March 21, 2022

Something about spring compels us to clear out clutter in our surroundings. Warming temperatures and increasing sunshine prompts us to open the windows and remove the dust of winter. It just feels good to get a fresh start with the changing season. But did you know that spring cleaning is good for your brain, too?

Just like clutter in our environments gets in the way of our day-to-day activities, clutter in our brains can pile up and affect our memory. This brain clutter may be what is getting in the way of remembering where you put your glasses, or the name of your nephew’s new baby. Mental clutter can even clog up in subject we know a lot about—like that actress in your favorite movie. You can remember her name, how many Academy Awards she has, but what’s the name of that movie again?

Aging is certainly associated with memory problems. Terms like “senior moment” are said in jest but contribute to ageist stereotypes about older adults, who are a wealth of wisdom and memories. But it is exactly that stockpile of memories that make processing new information harder. Simply put, seniors have more information in their brains! Think of it like a computer. The more files and software programs you put on your computer, the slower it works. Eventually you’ll need to delete some old files you don’t need to get your machine back up to speed. Research shows same is true of your brain. Older adults have so many stored memories, and some of that clutter in the brain makes multitasking difficult.

As we grow older, it can become harder to clear out the clutter in our brains. But memory problems as we age are not a foregone conclusion. Research into how the brain ages offers insight to memory decline in older adults and suggests that there may be practical solutions.

Unlike your computer, there isn’t a software program to remove the older, unused “files” in your brain. What are some practical ways to reduce the clutter in our brain? Here are five tips to help you clear the clutter from your brain and help it work better.

  1. Get good sleep. Research has shown strong association between working memory and sleep. Working memory plays a major role in how we use and remember information. Getting a full night of sleep helps your brain repair itself.
  2. Practice mindfulness. Mindful activities like yoga, tai chi, and meditation are great ways to help you focus on the moment and give your brain a break.
  3. Spend time in nature. Go for a walk or spend time in a garden or courtyard. Even observing birds from a window helps us connect to nature in a healthy way.
  4. Play games. The mind works best when it is stimulated! Try out the new word guessing game Wordle, put a puzzle together, or do a craft you love.

Include your brain in your spring cleaning. Try some of these tips to spring clean your brain and improve your memory.


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