As we age, many individuals experience memory loss to some degree. Most assume this is inevitable, but there are many ways that you can fight to keep your memory – and your memories – intact.
If you or a loved one are not suffering from a diagnosed form of cognitive decline, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, these easy tips may help to strengthen and preserve your memory longer, and help to keep you feeling sharp.
Memory Loss – Preventative Measures
Our memories are the keepers of the story of our life. When aging sets in, memory loss can make a senior feel as if they are losing their sense of self. While genetics do play a role in keeping memory and cognitive skills throughout our lives, there are external factors which contribute as well. Making the right lifestyle choices can be very helpful in keeping the brain active and healthy. Even when we are older, our brains can create new cells and establish new neural connections. In fact, you can “teach an old dogs new tricks” – quite effectively. Try these proactive measures to stimulate your brain well into old age.
- Eat with your brain in mind: The fact that food is the fuel of the body is well known; but did you know it also nourishes (or starves) the brain? Keeping your brain healthy starts with the right, healthy diet. A Mediterranean diet, considered one of the healthiest diets on the planet, is based on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, beans, legumes and healthy fats — such as olive oil, nuts, and fish. This diet is known to prevent disease and extend the lifespan, as well as to increase memory and attention span. Another popular healthy regimen is the ketogenic diet. These diets are low in carbohydrates and high in fat. By significantly reducing carbs and increasing fats, your body goes into ketosis; which in turn increases your body’s efficiency in burning fat for energy. More importantly for this discussion, ketosis creates ketones from fat in the liver, which delivers energy to the brain.Any diet which focuses on “real” food rather than processed food is likely to be good for your brain, especially those with low sugar and high levels of healthy fats. Individual foods which are beneficial to add to your diet include walnuts, blueberries, kale and spinach, avocados, eggs, cocoa, cinnamon and peppermint tea.
- Get moving whenever possible: Throughout your life, you heard that the key to health was diet and exercise. The same is true for brain health. After establishing a healthy diet, you’ll want to develop an age and ability appropriate exercise regimen. Exercise elevates oxygen levels in the brain, lowers the risk of heart disease (the leading killer in the United States) and diabetes, which is directly linked to memory loss. Exercise decreases stress hormones and increases beneficial brain chemicals. Research looking into brain health over 50 years old indicates that aerobic activity and resistance training combined boosts brain capability. Aerobic activity elevated cognitive abilities, while resistance training boosted memory, working memory, and executive function. Exercise also stimulated growth factors, significant in brain health.Integrating moderate aerobic and resistance training for at least 45 minutes per session for 5 days per week will significantly assist in keeping your brain in top condition as well. Keep in mind exercise does not have to be painful or boring – dancing is a wonderful aerobic exercise!
- Get some much needed rest: You are bound to like this weapon against memory loss – take a nap! In addition to 7-9 hours of sleep per night, an hour-long nap in the afternoon could be sufficient to improve your cognitive abilities.
Sleep helps us to clarify and consolidate short-term memory to long-term memory, improving retention. Conversely, skimping on sleep may prevent your brain from creating new memories. Quick Research Fact: Participants of a study who to a nap between sessions recalled 13 words on a memory test on average, while those who had not slept only recalled an average of 7.5 words.
At A Banyan Residence, we care about the overall physical and mental health of all our residents. If your loved one resides with us and you want to discuss how we might assist in keeping their brain sharp, call us today. We are here to help.