We have all walked up to someone familiar and been unable to remember their name.
We have walked into the other room for something and could not recall what it was we wanted once we got there.
Who hasn’t misplaced their car keys and taken so long to find them, we were late for an appointment?
These are not uncommon situations and are not cause for concern for most people.
However, that doesn’t keep family caregivers from worrying about their senior loved ones — or themselves — whenever these ‘memory lapses’ occur.
Is it Alzheimer’s disease?
Probably not, because dementia is not a normal part of aging, but these occasional memory lapses are.
Our brains do change over time, blood flow to our brains diminishes, and some forgetfulness is expected.
However, researchers believe that our brains are capable of regrowing cells and learning new things.
That doesn’t stop us from fearing losing our memory. But it is important to know that there are things we can do at any age or stage in life to help preserve our memory and strengthen our brain.
Strategies for Boosting Memory
Seniors and their caregivers can do a few simple things to help prevent memory loss so that our brains live as long as our bodies.
HealthyAging.org offers these strategies to help improve your memory:
- See your healthcare professional regularly to help manage chronic medical conditions; uncontrolled health conditions inhibit memory.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes three times a week to increase blood flow to the brain.
- Getting enough sleep to help you concentrate, 7-8 hours a night.
- Eating a balanced, good diet, especially fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is essential.
- Practice stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, and prayer.
- Keep hydrated with 6-8 glasses of water a day and limit alcohol.
- Avoid multi-tasking, which can decrease recall later; it can overload memory circuits making is harder to process information.
The American Psychological Association offers these ‘memory aides’ to help us all gain confidence in our memory:
- Keep to-do lists! Put them where you will see them often and mark off items as you complete them.
- Establish a routine. Follow your routine each day.
- Don’t rush. Give yourself plenty of time to memorize a name or idea or to recall something known to you.
- Everything in its place. Keep your possessions in their place, put things where you will use them such as hanging your keys near the door.
- Keep a calendar. Whether it is electronic or on paper, record important dates and other information, including reminders, and check it frequently.
If Concerned, See Your Healthcare Provider
Memory lapses don’t affect your daily activities as dementia would. They are frustrating and inconvenient for sure.
However, when forgetfulness leads to difficulty completing everyday tasks like driving, handling money, operating household items like a stove or washing machine, or remembering the names of your loves ones, it is time to seek help from your healthcare provider because these memory aides or prevention strategies won’t bring back your abilities to carry out daily living activities.
Preparing yourself everyday to keep your brain strong, will allow you and your senior to face the future armed for success.