Memory Loss: What’s Normal?

Occasional forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging.

Examples of memory loss that comes with age include forgetting to pay a bill one month or not remembering what day it is.

However, memory loss that affects your ability to do everyday activities can be a sign of a serious problem.

Signs of memory problems in elderly adults that warrant a visit to the doctor may include:

    • Asking repetitive questions
    • Getting lost in places you know well
    • Having trouble following directions or learning new things
    • Being confused about people, time, and places
    • Having difficulty following a conversation

8 tips to help prevent memory loss and improve memory

Staying mentally, physically, and socially active may lower the risk of memory loss, according to the National Institute on Aging. Although you can’t change your parent’s age or family history, you can encourage them to make lifestyle changes that may help prevent memory loss or improve memory.

  1. Stay physically active
    Exercise helps lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke — all risk factors for cognitive and memory disorders. Encourage your parent to try low-impact exercises such as yoga, tai chi, or even a walk around the block to help improve blood flow to the brain and keep their mind sharp.
  2. Eat a healthy diet
    A diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains can help your brain and heart health. Eating healthy can stave off conditions that contribute to cognitive decline, such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. Some healthy food groups that may have cognitive benefits include leafy green vegetables, berries, whole grains, fish, lean poultry, beans, and olive oil.
  3. Keep your mind engaged
    Reading, learning something new, doing crossword puzzles, or playing games can help keep the mind active. Stimulating the mind may help prevent memory loss by enhancing connections between cells in the brain that support memory.
  4. Control your blood pressure
    High blood pressure is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Controlling blood pressure when it’s high can help lower your risk of memory-related conditions.
  5. Stay social
    Social isolation in seniors can be both a symptom of and a risk factor for dementia. Staying connected with others helps lower stress and prevent depression, which can contribute to memory loss. Help prevent loneliness by encouraging your aging loved one to take up a hobby, seek volunteer opportunities, or join a club or religious community. Assisted living communities keep residents social and engaged by offering many opportunities for activities and outings that appeal to all lifestyles and tastes.
  6. Get enough sleep
    Sleep helps your brain rest and restore. It also helps to consolidate your memories. Sleep problems over time have been associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. If your loved one regularly has sleep problems, talk to the doctor about strategies to help improve sleep.
  7. Quit smoking
    Smoking can lead to several long-term health problems, but did you know that people who smoke are also at increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s? Talk to your loved one’s doctor about how to help them quit smoking for improved overall health.
  8. Drink alcohol in moderation only
    There’s some evidence that a glass of red wine a day may have beneficial effects in terms of reducing inflammation and even lowering the risk of memory disorders. However, drinking more than four drinks a day for men and more than three drinks a day for women is considered excessive, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If your loved one drinks alcohol, it’s important they do so in moderation.

Full story at A Place for Mom