Helping Seniors Navigate Memory Loss
By Jess Walter
Photo by Elien Dumon on Unsplash
Millions of Americans struggle with loss of memory each year, some related to Alzheimer's and some that are not. Approximately 40 percent of Americans over age 65 encounter memory loss in some capacity. Regardless of its cause, the reality is that as we age our health needs change as well; evolving in our 50s, 60s and 70s. While some cases of memory loss can be reversible, the frustration with forgetting precious memories and simple details can often take its toll. Here are a few tips to make everyday life a bit easier.
Use It Or Lose It
One of the best tips to help with memory loss is to exercise your memory. Regular use can be compared to that of staying physically active; it keeps your brain stimulated and in shape. Just as we lose muscle if not used, our brain can lose its functions if left inactive. Mentally stimulating activities such as crossword puzzles and volunteering in a relevant position can all be simple ways to help your memory. According to the Harvard Health Publishing Journal, continuous learning of use of your mind can not only activate individual brain cells but also encourage communication between them.
Rest Is Key
Studies have proved that a person’s sleep or rather quality of sleep can affect their memory in one of two ways. First, lack of sleep can manifest itself as disorientation and impair your ability to focus. Secondly, the rest that sleep provides is necessary for retention of memory and therefore, learning of new information. Researchers at the University of California supported this theory in 2013, citing poor quality of sleep as a cause of significant memory loss in the elderly. Based on the findings of the study, inadequate sleep quality can cause memories not to reach the prefrontal cortex, resulting in forgetfulness. Therefore, aim for the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, giving your body and mind the chance to retain its power.
Feed Your Body…And Your Memory
What we put into our bodies is manifested outward with our skin, hair and even our memory. Just as we eat for heart health, our diet can be tailored to give our brain the boost of nutrients it needs to combat memory loss. Foods such as avocados and berries are termed as brain boosting foods, rich in the antioxidants and vitamins our brain craves. These foods have proven to boost memory and focus in individuals. In addition to a healthy varied diet, you can also include additional supplements which promote your cognitive function. Supplements such as fish oil and ginkgo biloba extract have been proven to have many benefits including improving memory and sleep quality.
Finally, if you do find yourself struggling with memory loss reminders, such as notes and labels can become great guidance tips for the situation. To do this, you need to get organized. Not only can this simple tip help in preparation for the event of memory loss but it can also help you cope in the situation and also may prevent the occurrence of memory loss by minimizing distractions. A great tip to plan ahead and remember your past is to keep a daily calendar to track tasks and appointments.
Many causes of memory loss are treatable and stem from an identifiable issue such as depression, a vitamin deficiency or in some cases brain injury. However, sadly some cases are not. While not every senior that is living with memory loss necessarily has dementia, it is important that you know and can identify the signs pointing to the disease. If you or someone you love suspect it may be linked to dementia or Alzheimer's, speak to your physician for help today.