Experts say pandemic lifestyle could affect memory strength

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -Are you feeling more forgetful than normal? Cognitive experts said the pandemic could be the culprit.

Experts said the lockdown could have an effect on your memory because of the social isolation and chronic stress.

Some Madisonians are doing what they can to keep their memory strong.

Staying active keeps Samuel Bleisdowdy sharp.

“I think my memory is good,” he said. “With work I have to memorize lots of things being active and doing a lot of sports helps to clear my mind.”

But taking a walk down memory lane is a bumpy road for some.

“Overall I don’t think it’s [memory] that great. I try my best out here, but I definitely struggle sometimes,” Michael Padmanabhan, Madison resident said.

He’s not the only one fighting forgetfulness. Memory experts said lifestyle changes fueled by the pandemic caused cognitive skills to suffer.

“Stress, trauma and boredom are not your friends for precise memory,” Maryellen MacDonald, UW-Madison psychology and language sciences professor said.

She said people use cues from daily life to keep memories sharp.

“Say your cat got stuck in a closet one day, and it was on a Tuesday before pandemic time. Tuesday was the day of your staff meeting or your kids soccer practice and you had this special thing about what Tuesday was,” she said.

But if every day is the same, she said days can blend together making it harder to spark a memory.

“The pandemic made you change so many habits. You are good at remembering how to clock in your hours at work in the old times, but now you got to do some totally different things,” MacDonald said.

The good news is experts said your memories can bounce back.

“Going back to the routines we had before the pandemic will help people’s memory and focus quite a bit,” she said.

MacDonald added your diet, sleep schedule and nutrition could also have a big impact on your memory.

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