Yes, our memory for facts gets flabbier as we get older -- but we can tone things up with a little functional fitness.
Puzzle designer Chris Maslanka and engineer David Owen put forth these suggestions in their book "Neurobics: Create Your Own Brain Training Program."
Memorize a poem (or at least a line or two) every day. Rhyme and rhythm, say the authors, link "the purely verbal to other modalities of thought," which makes our memories more agile.
Play Grocery Games
The next time you go shopping, look over your list, then put it away. Just before you get to the register, check it to see how much you forgot to pick up. Enrich your number skills by trying to estimate how much you've spent before the cashier rings it up; see if you can work out the change before the register does.
Use the News
After you listen to the news, try to list the stories in order. Start with those short top-of-the-hour updates and work your way to "All Things Considered."
If you're trying to recall a list of things, link them in a story. You can also imagine the objects in different places in your house, then mentally put yourself there.
Design Your Own Puzzle
You can do crosswords -- or create a puzzle of your own. Making a grid, coming up with solutions, and devising clues works those neurons cognitively and creatively.
"Neurobics: Create Your Own Brain Training Program " (Reader's Digest, 2010)