You know the moments I mean – when you can’t remember where you left your keys…or exactly why you walked into the room…or the name of the street you need to take a left on in order to get to the store.
Because, while the occasional senior moment might be amusing, you don’t really need them to become an everyday occurrence. Luckily for you, age-related memory decline is not inevitable.
So the sooner you look into how to prevent memory loss, the more success you’ll have.
If it’s Not Inevitable, What Causes Memory Loss?
It’s easier to know how to prevent memory loss if you understand what’s going on physically that causes memory loss. There are four main reasons people experience age-related memory loss:
1. The hippocampus gets smaller with age – but what does that mean? The hippocampus is the part of your brain in charge of both memory storage and retrieval. As you age, it begins to deteriorate, making it harder for you to store new memories and access old ones.
2. Brain cells are protected and repaired by certain hormones and proteins. Only as you age, you stop producing these hormones and proteins in the necessary amounts.
3. Like every other part of your body, the brain needs adequate blood flow. Older adults tend to get less blood flow than they need, which can negatively affect memory.
4. Your stomach is tied into your brain health, too. The older you are, the less efficiently your body absorbs nutrients – including the nutrients that your brain needs to stay sharp.
Now Knowing How to Prevent Memory Loss is Easier
Looking at those, it becomes clear that how to prevent memory loss is tied into brain health and nutrients. Which means taking these eight steps will go a long way to protecting your brain, and preventing memory loss.
1. Be aware of diet. Researchers have recently discovered something called the MIND diet, which may actually prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It’s similar to the Mediterranean diet, but not as restrictive. And the best part is that even people who follow it moderately experience its benefits.
2. Look into vitamins and supplements. While we like to think that we can get all of the nutrients we need from our healthy diets, that’s not always the case. First, our diets aren’t always as consistently healthy as they need to be. Second, even a healthy diet usually has some holes. There have been promising results around folate and vitamins E, C, B6, and B12 – especially if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, which is more common in older adults.
3. Exercise your brain. Working your brain is just as important as working your body. It can also be a lot easier than working your body. Trying just about anything new is a great way to give your brain a workout. From learning a new language to reading a book on a topic you’ve never studied before, it all counts. Do crossword puzzles. Use you non-dominant hand for simple tasks. If you find fun and interesting ways to challenge your mind then you are one step closer to preventing memory loss.
4. Don’t smoke. This may seem like a general health tip, but it also is related to preventing memory loss. Every drag of a cigarette constricts the blood vessels to and in your brain. You end up with less oxygen and greater risk of stroke. Studies also indicate that smokers don’t remember names or faces as well as nonsmokers do. So now, you’ve got one more reason to put cigarettes down for good.
5. Get enough sleep. Sleep is the time your body imprints and stores memories. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, new memories aren’t getting stored. But that’s not all. Remember the hippocampus? When you sleep, your body produces the neurons necessary to keep the hippocampus healthy – which keeps your memory healthy too.
6. Manage stress. We all know there’s no such thing as a stress-free life, but if you can manage your stress, it will go a long way toward preventing memory loss. See, the hormone your body produces when you’re stressed can cause damage to the brain after a while. If you can control the stress, you can control how much stress hormone your brain is exposed to.
7. Socialize with friends. One of the most overlooked ways to manage stress is to stay social. But stress management isn’t the only reason socializing is good for your memory. Socializing often includes activities that keep your brain active, and it can help ward off depression, which affects your memory. Just be sure to socialize with people who make you feel better about yourself, not worse.
8. Exercise your body. Perhaps the main reason exercise is how to prevent memory loss is because it includes many of the other steps on this list. Exercise helps you sleep better. Helps you relax and manage your stress. Taking an aerobics class, playing golf, or even going for a walk can all be social. But even more than that, exercise boosts brain health, encouraging brain cell growth, and reduces the risk of diseases that can contribute to memory loss. And while specific recommendations vary, 30-45 minutes of walking or other aerobic activity, most days a week seems to be the general consensus.
You don’t have to be resigned to senior moments any longer. How to prevent memory loss is easier than ever.
Sure, it takes a little effort, but your memories are worth it.