The thought that someday you could forget the cherished moments you once shared with your loved ones is terrifying.
Brain blips happen to everyone from time to time, from misplacing your glasses or forgetting why you walked into a room, and there is nothing to worry about. These changes reflect normal changes in the structure and function of the brain cells leading to aging. As a result, the cognitive processes might slow down, and you might find it difficult to memorize new information immediately.
As we age, these memory lapses become common and a bit concerning too. Multiple factors such as genetics, age, and other factors increase the risk of dementia and loss of intellectual function. It might also happen due to organic disorders, neurological defects, or brain injury.
That's why it is crucial for us to know how to improve memory especially when we are aging.
Common Stones of Memory Impairment
Healthy people of all ages can experience a mental block. It becomes more pronounced with age.
This type of forgetfulness occurs when you are unable to pay enough attention.
- You enter the room, and you don't know why you entered there.
- You will never find your keys (or purse, etc.).
- You are lost in the middle of conversations.
- You don't know what you want to do next because your thoughts aren't organized enough to start making plans.
To avoid this problem is to look for things that you can use as a reminder. For example, if you have to take certain medications for breakfast, start placing them next to a cup of coffee at the table.
This is a decrease in memory availability during the aging process as we grow older. It is a fundamental feature of memory and is the cause of many memory problems. Memory is to use it or lose it: If you remember and use memory frequently, you are less likely to forget it. The transition appears to be a boon rather than a weakness for memory, as it clears the brain of unused memories and paves the way for newer and more important ones.
The peak state of the memory block is considered with respect to the feasibility of its neural network modeling. This is the best-known example of a hang, a temporary inability to reclaim memory. The blockage doesn't occur because you haven't been paying attention or because the memory in your brain has faded.
In many cases, it is blocked by another similar memory. For example, you name your eldest child on behalf of your youngest child or vice versa. Memory blocks get more common with age. It becomes a major problem for older people who can’t remember names.
Good news? Research has shown that memory loss is preventable. Mr. Pilates was not wrong when he said that physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. Health is the real wealth. Eating healthy, exercising daily, sleeping enough and avoiding alcohol is the key to sharpen your mind. Here are some causes of forgetfulness and strategies to improve memory. Thank us later!
Causes of Memory Loss
Occasional memory loss that interferes with your routine can have multiple origins. The most common cause that we all know is aging. Brain function is expected to decline as the connection between the neurons weakens with age.
This affects the process of storing memory. After aging comes family history, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Building up fat in the arteries is one of the major reasons behind the cognitive decline. According to research, around one-third of people who have smoke develop dementia.
The list doesn’t end here. Certain medications such as tranquilizers, antihistamines, sleeping pills, and antidepressants can also contribute to memory loss.
A number of over-the-counter medications such as muscle relaxants are the culprits behind memory loss. Apart from that, excessive alcohol intake and drug abuse also interfere with memory retention. Getting too little sleep and stress can lead to memory loss too.
Nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B2 deficiency are a whole new world to explore when it comes to brain health, whereas minor causes include brain injury and infections.
Memory and Aging
Challenging the brain with mental exercise nourishes and maintains brain cells by stimulating communication between them. Better mental functioning is related to a higher educational level in old age.
A brain structure known as the hippocampus plays a vital role in the consolidation of new memories. Amygdala, a part situated near it, responds to emotional intelligence and helps the brain memorize information. Once consolidated, memory is stored primarily in the cerebral cortex, the outer large arched layer of the brain.
How to Prevent Memory Loss in Old Age?
According to the experts, it can help in maintaining a good memory because of getting used to being mentally active. Some jobs that people do keeps them mentally active, but pursuing a hobby or learning new skills can work just as well as this.
Start reading books on your favorite genre, play chess, crosswords or puzzles, write your autobiography, get yourself enrolled in a course, devote yourself to music or art, or if you are a nature lover, then try gardening. At work, sign up for a project that includes skills you don't normally use. Maintaining brain connections is an ongoing process, so lifelong learning should be a priority.
7 Ways to Prevent Memory Loss
Taking care of yourself is all you need to do to keep your brain and body healthy. Among all the risk factors listed above, only aging is the one that you can’t actually change. However, a lifestyle that allows you to age gracefully can help you to prevent memory loss and improve your retention. Consider these simple routine changes to protect your mind.
1. Start Exercising
Physical activity and exercises improve blood flow through our bodies. Of course, it benefits your brain too. This can help you keep your memory sharpen up. The current recommendation for most adults is to achieve at least 150 minutes of mild activity per week.
We don’t need to highlight the many great reasons to exercise: from improving energy, mood, sleep, diseases like blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and health, to reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. Keep in mind that a minute walk is better than sitting on a sofa. It will help you lose more than any activity.
2. Eat Healthy
A healthy diet is always good for the brain. We all need a balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in our diets to maintain a healthy mind and body. It is not necessary to exclude certain categories of foods from the diet but to choose the healthiest options from each category.
Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and low in calories, which means they are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Focus on consuming the recommended daily amount of at least five servings of fruit and vegetables. There are a variety of vitamins that fight memory loss and people should incorporate them in their daily diets.
Add antioxidant-rich berries to your favorite breakfast cereals. Eat a mixture of sweet fruits - oranges, mangoes, pineapples, grapes - for dessert. Replace the usual side of rice or pasta with a colorful salad. Instead of eating processed snacks, snack on vegetables like carrots, peas, or cherry tomatoes, along with a spicy hummus or peanut butter sauce. Avoid fatty foods, fast foods, sweet foods, and baked goods.
According to research, the Mediterranean diet will save your memory at best. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet does not mean pasta and pizza, but a lot of fruit and vegetables, fish, olive oil, and less red meat. One study found that people who followed this diet closely were nearly 20 percent less likely to have problems with their mind and memory.
One cannot discount the health benefits of Ashwagandha as well. It includes chemicals that can help the brain relax, decrease swelling and inflammation, lower blood pressure, and strengthen our immune system. Another benefit of Ashwagandha includes nerve regeneration that helps fight memory loss!
3. Sleep Well
With restless sleep, your concentration and focus decrease. Your mental function would go down as compared to those who have normal, restful sleep. Sleep allows your brain to process the day's information and create memories.
Recent research has found that sleep also activates a "cleansing system" in the brain that removes waste and toxic protein plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease and other cognitive disorders.
Try these tips for better sleep:
- Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning
- Don't drink caffeine or alcohol before bed
- Avoid large meals before bed
- Avoid smoking or other forms of nicotine
Social interaction helps prevent depression and stress, which can contribute to memory loss. Social isolation can be both a symptom and a risk factor for dementia.
Staying in touch with others helps reduce stress and prevent depression, which can contribute to memory loss. Help prevent loneliness by encouraging your loved one to pursue hobbies, volunteer opportunities, or join a club or religious community. Supported living communities keep residents in social and engaged status, providing many opportunities for activities and travel that appeal to every lifestyle and taste.
5. Quit Drinking and Smoking
Avoiding smoking generally improves your health as well, including your appearance. Quitting smoking has been found to slow down the appearance of wrinkles and slow down facial aging. Smoking accelerates memory loss as we age. If you smoke, stop.
Research Study Linked with Smoking
A study of 1,508 adults found that with higher alcohol consumption, people were more likely to start smoking every day and develop nicotine addiction. About 90% of heavily alcohol-dependent people were also addicted to tobacco.
According to new guidelines, drinking more than four drinks a day for men and more than three drinks a day for women is considered excessive. If you are addicted to alcohol or suffering from other health or mental problems, then you should stop drinking as soon as possible.
6. Manage Chronic Conditions
Sometimes medical conditions can cause memory loss.
- Check your blood sugar level for diabetes: The increase in blood sugar prevents memory from reducing the blood supply to the brain. In the Harvard Nurses' Health Study, women aged 70 to 81 performed worse cognitive tests and showed greater worsening for two years when they had type 2 diabetes. Exercise is another way to improve the level of sugar in the blood.
- Check your blood pressure: Some memory losses result from decreased blood flow to the brain caused by hypertension. Hypertension is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Controlling blood pressure when it is high can help reduce the risk of memory-related conditions.
- Get your cholesterol tested: High cholesterol appears to increase the risk of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease for many years. As per the study published in 2008 conducted on 3,673 British adults aged between 55 and 61 by measuring their cholesterol and memory were found to have an association between low HDL and memory decline. It's too early to know if raising HDL levels can ward off dementia, but it's still a good idea to raise HDL levels with regular exercise, removing saturated and trans fats, and consuming more monounsaturated fats like oils olive, canola, and peanut.
- Manage your stress: Being stressed is very bad for your brain. High levels of stress hormones, specifically cortisol, affect your memory and make it difficult for your brain to retrieve information. Regimes of relaxation and positive thinking can also be important: Stress and depression, which can become more frequent later in life, often seriously affect learning and memory. Try different ways to relax, such as meditation, yoga, or massage.
- Watch out for depression: Cognitive problems can be a sign of depression. Depressed older women have worse cognitive functions than women without depression, and their abilities decline more rapidly over time. Adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as those who are also depressed.
- Hormones can be notorious: Low thyroid activity (hypothyroidism) can negatively affect learning, memory, and attention, even in women whose thyroid levels are undetectable to result in other noticeable signs and symptoms. Proper treatment can bring your thyroid levels back to normal once again and consequently improve your cognitive performance. People who are not treated are twice as likely to have cognitive decline.
7. Engage your Brain
Just like physical activity helps keep the body fit, mentally stimulating activities help keep the brain fit and can keep memory loss in check. Do the crossword puzzles. Play bridge. While driving, take alternative routes. You can try learning to play a musical instrument or enroll yourself to volunteer at fundraisers or community activities at a local school or organization.
Tips & Tricks for Daily Memory
If you have trouble with your daily memory, it will help you have a few tricks up your sleeve.
- Say out loud: Whenever you learn a new name or a new word, say it out loud to seal it in your brain. Mentally link each new name to an image.
- Use notes: If you want to remember, add notes from home or office or remind yourself on the phone to know when it's time to take your meds or go on an important appointment.
- The power of repetition: Repetition is most effective as a learning tool if timed correctly. It is best not to repeat something many times in a short time, as if you are pushing for an exam. Instead, re-study the essentials over time: once every hour, then every few hours, then every day.
- Keep your belongings organized: You are more likely to forget things if you have a mess at home and your notes are messy. Calendars, planners, shopping lists, file folders, diaries, and directories can be a big advantage when it comes to making routine information available. Find a specific spot at home where you can keep all your purse, glasses, keys, and other items you use often.
- Remove clutter and distractions: Remove clutter from your workspace as well as your home to minimize distractions so you can focus on the new information you want to remember. Always work in a calm and quiet place to limit distractions and don't take too many things on your plate at once. If you focus on the information you are trying to keep, you will likely remember it later. It can also help you connect what you are trying to keep with a favorite song or other familiar concepts.
- Take help from a professional: If you would like to go for a memory enhancement course, choose a course run by health professionals or specialists in psychology or cognitive rehabilitation. Choose a course that focuses on practical ways to handle everyday challenges. Stay away from computer-focused courses or concentration games, which generally won't help you with real-life problems.
If you are concerned about memory loss due to aging, especially if memory loss is affecting your ability to carry your normal day-to-day activities or if you notice memory problems, consult your doctor.