Can You Protect Yourself Against Memory Loss
Besides age, there are eight factors that affect memory ability in older adulthood
1. Genetics (50%)
2. Cognitive stimulation
3. Other health conditions
5. Good sleep
6. Social support and engagement
8. Physical exercise
No one has control over genetics, but there is hope because we do have control over the other 7 factors listed above.
Brain exercise is essential in preserving memory. Research by Lachman H.M. (2010) found that older adults with more education are less likely to have memory problems. “Among individuals with low education, those who engaged in reading, writing, attending lectures, doing word games or puzzles once a week or more had memory scores similar to people with more education,” said Lachman.
Most people know about the physical benefits of staying healthy. Good health also affects memory ability. Depression, urinary tract infection, upper respiratory infections and even constipation are just a few things that can affect memory.
Stress inhibits the brain’s ability to learn new things and remember old ones, which is why when we stop thinking and relax, we suddenly remember a name or piece of trivia we were searching for.
Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation).
As people age, social connections often diminish, loss of social contact through work, death of friends, ill health or loss of transportation can all contribute to this. It is therefore doubly important to make the extra effort to seek out social stimulation.
Research has found a positive correlation between Omega-3 fatty acids levels (e.g., DHA) and cognitive functioning in older adults. Also, over time, our brain cells experience wear and tear from various oxidants known as free radicals (as well as cell division). Our bodies use antioxidants to combat the effects of free radicals. It is therefore important to eat foods high in antioxidants.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign scanned the brains of 55 subjects, ages 55- 79, and measured their maximal oxygen uptake (a gauge of aerobic fitness) during walking and treadmill tests. Participants ranged from sedentary to those in peak-performance fitness. The results published in the February 2003 Journal of Gerontology showed that physically fit subjects had less age-related brain-tissue shrinkage than less active subjects.
Research is being conducted constantly and is often shared online.
Article Provided By:
Cathy Parkinson, CQSW
United Methodist Retirement Center