A few lifestyle changes to treat memory problems

If those "senior moments" are happening more often, don't get too upset: it’s probably just natural age-related memory loss. In such cases, at-home treatment can be simple and effective.

A few lifestyle changes to treat memory problems

Lifestyle changes instead of medication

If your memory problems are the natural result of aging, there’s plenty you can do to keep yourself on the ball well into your 70's and 80's.

  • In fact, evidence strongly suggests that making some basic lifestyle changes can go a long way toward preserving, and even boosting, your mental capacity.
  • Today studies show that the old "use it or lose it" adage really holds true.
  • Your doctor probably won't need to prescribe drugs unless you have memory problems related to hormone deficiencies or mild cognitive impairment.

The importance of your diet and exercise

  • One good way to boost your brain power is to eat a well-balanced, low-fat diet (with only 20 percent of your daily calories from fat).
  • An analysis of 19 studies on the effect of diet on memory loss found that a high calorie consumption in addition to a high fat intake was a risk factor for cognitive decline.
  • In addition to diet, exercise can do wonders for your mental agility. Because your brain requires more oxygen than any other organ (it uses 25 percent of all the oxygen taken in by the lungs), brain cells need a continuous supply of oxygen-laden blood.
  • Regular, vigorous aerobic exercise (a brisk 30-minute walk, for example, at least three times per week) not only gets blood heading to your brain, it also increases levels of naturally occurring proteins, called trophic factors, that are necessary for healthy brain functioning.
  • If you really want to stay on the ball, you must exercise the brain itself, too.

Stimulating your brain

  • Systematize your life. Getting organized can do wonders for your memory. Hang up a key rack, keep a journal or appointment log and scrupulously maintain checklists of things to do.
  • Keep your brain agile. This means regularly challenging yourself. Take up a foreign language, play word games, do complicated jigsaw puzzles or learn to play the tuba. It doesn't so much matter what you do as long as you set out to actively participate in some mentally invigorating activities.
  • Learn a few tricks to stimulate recall. Try saying what you're doing out loud while you're doing it ("I'm unplugging the electric curlers!"). Or come up with good associations (think of a whirling eddy when you're introduced to someone named "Eddie"). Interestingly, elderly people who are taught to use some memory-enhancing tricks have been shown via MRI scans to recruit more parts of their brains during word memorization tests.
  • Decrease your use of non-prescription medications. Overuse of over-the-counter drugs may be the single biggest cause of memory loss or confusion in older adults.
  • Try meditation. This age-old technique has been found to heighten a person’s ability to focus and concentrate, and to improve creativity and problem solving.
  • Eat more blueberries (maybe). A study conducted at Tufts University found that blueberries reversed mental decline in elderly rats. The animals were better able to remember the correct path through a maze after having their diets supplemented with blueberry extract for two months. Although there are plenty of good reasons to eat blueberries whenever you can, keep in mind that what smartens up lab rats may not have the same effect in humans.

Memory loss is generally a normal part of getting older. Try these tips to avoid memory loss for as long as possible. Not only is it good for your mind, but your body will also be healthier!

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