Home  >  Carol LeBeau  >  Carol's Health Journal | 12. August 2010

Memory Loss

12. August 2010

Yesterday, I found myself staring into the closet in my guest bedroom. I had no idea why I was there! On the verge of panicking, I retraced my mental steps. Oh yeah! That’s where the blouse I wanted was hanging, with the rest of the dry cleaning I’d hung there days before.

And that’s not the first time. It seems I’m forgetting more all the time… the keys, the shopping list, the name of my husband’s colleague, the question to the “Jeopardy” answer I SHOULD know!

Does this ever happen to you? Are you finding it’s getting harder to remember things? If so, take comfort – you’re not alone. And it’s rarely due to the onset of some dread disease. Fact is, as we age, our memories can fade. But some of those “brain fades” can actually be due to factors you can control and prevent. Here are a few memory improvement tips that just may help keep you sharp for years to come.

  • Keep your mind active. If you challenge yourself continually to learn new skills and practice the ones you have, your memory will be at its best. Work crossword puzzles, play scrabble, memorize poetry and stay up with current events.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep. If not, your mind may be tired, leading to poor memory.
  • Reduce stress as much as possible. When you have a lot of worry on your mind, you may find you’re more forgetful.
  • Pay attention to what you eat. When you eat a diet rich in anti-oxidants, such as broccoli and berries, and omega 3, such as olive oil and fish, you give your brain the food it needs to function at its best. Plant foods and vegetables are also important for retaining memory function.
  • Take medications for health problems – including high cholesterol and high blood pressure as prescribed… since a worsening of these problems can have a negative impact on your mind.
  • Socialize as often as you can. By staying up-to-date with family and friends, you can help keep your mind strong.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of depression. Older adults who are depressed are at risk for becoming confused and forgetful. If you think you might be depressed, seek professional help right away.
  • Have your blood pressure checked routinely. High blood pressure that’s left untreated can affect your memory.
  • Take care to avoid injuries that can lead to memory loss. Wear a helmet if you bike, and safety-proof your house to help avoid falls.
  • Stay away from alcohol. When used in excess, imbibing can lead to memory loss and confusion.

But should you or someone you love begin experiencing the early signs of dementia… a serious loss of cognitive ability beyond what might be expected from normal aging, set up an appointment with your doctor for an assessment.

Meantime, I think I’ll get started on the Sunday crossword puzzle. If I could only remember where I put the newspaper…

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.