Lifestyle Changes Can Boost Your Memory
(ARA) - Do you ever find yourself
at the grocery store struggling to remember what you came for?
Are you forgetting birthdays and lunch dates? If these situations
sound familiar to you, you're not alone. Forgetfulness is one
of the most common complaints of those in middle age and beyond.
Memory loss and Alzheimer's disease
rank high on the list of senior fears. Alzheimer's was the No.
1 fear of aging, according to research conducted by Bankers Life
and Casualty Company, a national life and health insurer that
focuses on serving the retirement needs of the middle market.
Similarly, a national poll by Research!America and PARADE magazine
showed that adults were more than twice as likely to fear losing
their mental capacity as their physical ability.
The good news is according to
researchers at John Hopkins, most memory loss has nothing to
do with Alzheimer's disease. Nearly all of us, they say, take
more time to learn and recall information as we age.
There are simple things that
you can do in your everyday life to increase your ability to
retain information and exercise your brain.
Engage your brain.
Mentally stimulating activities
strengthen brain cells and the connection between them. You can
keep those cells in shape by giving them a workout. Instead of
passively watching TV, try something that engages your brain:
reading, writing, taking a class, doing a crossword puzzle or
even learning a new game to play with family members.
Stay in touch.
Loneliness is linked to depression,
a risk factor for memory loss. Try to keep your social network
strong by volunteering or simply helping a neighbor. Make a conscious
effort to stay connected with friends and relatives by visiting
with them or keeping in touch by phone or e-mail.
Maintaining a balanced diet,
low in saturated fats is said to be better for cognitive functioning.
In addition, the Alzheimer's Association notes growing evidence
that a diet rich in dark vegetables and fruits -- which contain
antioxidants -- may help protect brain cells.
Regular exercise can increase
oxygen to the brain. It can also lower the risk for diseases
that can lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular
disease. Your doctor can help you develop an exercise regime
that's best for you.
When to seek help.
"It's important to know
the difference between normal forgetting and something more serious,"
says Scott Perry, president of Bankers Life and Casualty Company,
who serves on the board of directors of his local Alzheimer's
Serious memory problems, according
to the National Institute on Aging, are those that affect a person's
ability to perform everyday activities. For example:
* Asking the same questions over
* Becoming lost in familiar places.
* Not being able to follow directions.
* Getting very confused about
time, people and places.
* Losing interest in daily activities
such as grooming and eating.