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Memory loss is often associated with aging. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), it is normal that it might take longer to remember things as you age.
Typical memory changes include:
- Difficulty focusing on more than one thing at a time
- Increased energy and effort to learn new things
- More time needed to recall information
Some memory problems are more serious than just forgetting someone’s name or where you put your car keys. Memory loss disorders include dementias and Alzheimer’s disease. Although there is no cure, there are steps you can take to preserve and enhance your normal brain function, and slow the progression of memory loss and other age-related cognitive disorders.
People pay attention to other organs of the body, like the heart, but tend to forget that your brain is an organ too. You need to take as much care of your brain as you would with your heart.
To prevent heart disease or diabetes, you try to reduce your blood pressure, lower your body weight and cholesterol, eat a low-fat diet and exercise. We encourage everyone to follow this same regimen for your brain. But we also want you to exercise your mind. You can remain mentally sharp if you practice and work at it.
The Alzheimer’s Association memory program called “Maintain Your Brain” offers advice on how to sharpen and sustain your memory. You can also check out group psychotherapy.
Stay mentally active
Cells die all the time in your brain, but they regenerate new cells. With memory loss, the cells don’t regenerate as quickly. Keeping the brain active increase its vitality and helps generate new brain cells.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers these tips to keep your brain active on a daily basis:
- Stay curious and involved — commit to lifelong learning
- Read, write, work crossword or other puzzles
- Attend lectures and plays
- Enroll in courses at your local adult education center, community college or other community group
- Play games
- Try memory exercises
Remain socially involved
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, research shows that people who are social and interact with others maintain their brain vitality. Staying socially engaged in activities that stimulate your mind and body.
Stay physically active
Physical exercise is essential for maintaining good blood flow to the brain and can encourage new brain cells.
Studies show that there is a connection between the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases and Alzheimer’s. By exercising, this is one fo the things you can do to reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s.
Aerobic exercise improves oxygen consumption, which benefits brain function. The “Maintain Your Brain” program advises walking, bicycling, gardening, tai chi, yoga and other activities of about 30 minutes daily to get the body moving and the heart pumping.
Adopt a brain-healthy diet
Like the heart, the brain needs the right balance of nutrients, including protein and sugar, to function properly. Manage your body weight for overall good health of brain and body. Reduce your intake of foods high in fat and cholesterol. Studies have shown that high intake of saturated fat and cholesterol clogs the arteries and is associated with higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Also, try baking or grilling food instead of frying.
The choices we make in our lifestyle can profoundly impact our overall brain health and our memory. There is no 100% guarantee that you will prevent memory loss, but by following some of the tips above, you can keep your mind functioning at peak levels.