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Memory Loss

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Doctors agree that early identification and treatment of memory loss are crucial. However, many people wonder how to recognize the early signs of serious memory loss.

How are these signs different from the "senior moments" that we joke about?

A Few Things to Know

While delayed recall tends to be more frequent as we age, serious, progressive memory loss is not a normal, inevitable part of the aging process.

If you have difficulty remembering a name or a word, but then recall it later, this is probably just a temporary retrieval problem caused by an overload of information.

Serious memory loss causes inability to retain new information and "make new memories". The individual may have difficulty remembering conversations, events, appointments and/or where he or she has put things.

Other early signs of serious memory loss may include getting lost, difficulty handling complex multi-step tasks, impaired problem-solving ability, personality changes, (such as irritability, in-attentiveness, defensiveness, suspiciousness), problems with word-finding and difficulty understanding words or ideas.

If you feel any of this applies to you, perhaps you will want to seek comprehensive assessment and family caregiver support services for memory loss.

Call your local Hospital and request information on the Memory Loss Resource Centers. Ask whether or not there is one near you or something of similar aid.

Exercise Helps Your Mind, Too

Regular exercise, starting with something as easy as a daily walk, benefits not only physical but also mental health. The functioning and efficiency of the brain have been shown to improve with exercise.

In a University of Illinois study, sedentary men and women were tested on their ability to plan, establish schedules, make and remember choices and adapt to changing circumstances. Half were then assigned to a daily walking program, while the other half were not. When they were retested six months later, the walkers showed a 25 percent improvement. The non-walkers made little mental progress.

How About Some Trail Mix?

The fruits and nuts added to many trail mixes may help memory! A recent review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that these two foods may boost memory and fight depression. The bonuses were most evident in older adults. Eat half a cup of nuts and 1 to 2 cups of berries daily, says Peter Pribis. Fresh fruits and nuts are always best, but about 1/2 to 1 cup dried berries are good, too.


Antioxidants Fight Aging. Would you like to know which foods age you fast so you can avoid them? A new test developed at the State University of New York in Buffalo identifies which foods generate the most particles called free radicals. Free radicals are major suspects as skin-agers, memory robbers, eyesight dimmers and even cancer starters. Sugar and saturated fat seem to be the worst for generating free radicals. Orange juice, with so many antioxidants, seems to reduce them. Antioxidants, such as the vitamin C in orange juice, can deactivate free radicals before they age you. That is even more of a reason to eat foods high in vitamins such as ruits and vegetables.

Boost in Memory

Those of us who can never remember where our keys are, are one sweaty step closer to a cure. We already know exercise can help improve memory, but the scientists behind a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences are the first to show that working out sparks the regrowth of neurons in the part of the brain affected by age-related memory loss.

Researchers may be able to use that information to ID the best memory-improving fitness routine. In the meantime, any kind of aerobic activity (such as biking, running, walking or swimming) should help.

Herbal Help

Essential oils promote alertness and stimulate memory. Inhale grapefruit or peppermint occasionally while driving, reading or studying. Basil and bergamot are said to help with concentration. Inhale during the day to increase focus.

Don't Fear Memory Loss

Age may not make us as forgetful as we're led to believe. When older adults take memory tests, negative stereotypes about aging may encourage poor results by increasing concerns or anxiety. In a recent study, adults read newspaper articles. Some articles presented findings that said mental declines in later life are inevitable; others said some memory skills were preserved with age. Those who read the positive messages performed about 30 percent better in memory tests than those who read articles reinforcing negative cultural stereotypes. Think positive!