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Memory Loss in Seniors
Most seniors fear memory loss. It’s scary to think about not having all the memories, both good and bad, that you’ve collected over a lifetime. Luckily, memory loss does not always have to be something to be expected with aging. Your brain can produce new cells, no matter how old you are. However, just like with any muscle, you must use your brain to encourage it to continue producing cells and keep your memory.
However, memory lapses can occur with aging. Memory lapses occur when you temporarily forget something (perhaps the name of the show you watched) or when it takes you longer to recall something. Typically, when given time, you will be able to recall that information. This is a normal function of aging and is not memory loss, but rather the brain function slowing down from what it used to be.
Memory Loss and Dementia
Memory loss is commonly associated with dementia. However, there is a difference between age-related memory loss and dementia. Age-related memory loss and memory lapses are not and should not be disabling, whereas dementia is a disabling disease. See our page for more information on dementia.
Maintaining Your Memory
Here are some tips for maintaining your memory:
- Eat well and drink plenty of fluids. To help maintain your memory, eat foods that contain omega-3s that help brain health. You will also want to eat fruits and vegetables and limit saturated fats. Having fluids is also critical because dehydration can cause memory loss.
- Exercise regularly. Not only is exercise good for your body, it is good for your brain, too, because it allows your brain to get more oxygen and reduces stress.
- Get plenty of rest. Getting on a regular sleep schedule to help your brain. Your memory is consolidated and memory-enhancing activities happen during sleep.
- Minimize your use of medications. Some medications can inhibit your memory and thinking. So, prior to getting on a new medication, talk to your doctor about the effects.
- Get help if you are depressed. Depression can take its toll on the brain and can actually lead to memory issues. With treatment, these issues often go away.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Your brain cells are killed by alcohol. So, limit consumption to help maintain your cells and memory.
These are just a couple of tips for maintaining your memory. Your doctor may suggest even more tips or others that fit in with your lifestyle.
Reversible Memory Loss
Some problems, like acute illnesses, depression, or chronic problems with an organ system, can cause memory loss which can sometimes be reversed with the treatment of those problems.
If you are looking for more information for seniors, see our Health Library.