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Health and Wellbeing: Concerned about Memory Loss?

Memory loss can happen simply because we have too much going on in our lives or we are more stressed than usual. Memory loss can also be a sign of normal ageing depending on the severity, but there is a significant difference between memory loss due to ageing and memory loss due to dementia. 

Significant memory loss can be a symptom of dementia and if caught early, there are preventive measures you can take to potentially delay its onset.

Memory loss and MCI - Mild Cognitive Impairment

There is memory loss and there is MCI – mild cognitive impairment, which is an early indicator of dementia. MCI is relatively new as a diagnosis and indicates memory loss which is more significant than what is usually experienced with ageing, but without any other signs of dementia. 

Typical memory complaints of people with MCI are losing track of a conversation and not remembering what was said as well as misplacing things more often. Dementia Australia describe the difference between normal memory loss with ageing and memory loss associated with dementia.

Whether it is memory loss or MCI, there are lifestyle changes you can make and things you can do to help keep your brain sharp and delay (or even prevent) further memory loss.

Tips to maintain your memory

We do not know exactly why memory loss occurs, but the theories point toward lifestyle factors such as increased stress, nutritional deficiencies and a lack of desire to learn anything new. The brain is not a muscle but behaves like one in that the more you use it, the less the risk of losing it. 

Here are some ways to keep your memory working well:

Keep your brain active and nurture your natural love of learning

Nurture your love of learning, no matter what your age. Read, learn a language, learn a musical instrument or take up a new hobby that challenges you - these activities stimulate the brain’s connections, strengthening existing neural pathways and laying down new ones required to process and learn the new information. This means you will also be exercising both working memory and longer term memory as you are learning this new skill or hobby.

The brain has neuroplasticity well into old age, which means it can change to accommodate new information. As we mentioned above, it is like a muscle, so it is best to keeping using it to prevent from losing it! 

Pay attention to the present moment – the now

Don’t worry about five minutes ago and the next half hour or day. Focussing on the now will help your brain work better because you will hear and notice more, your brain will absorb information more effectively, retaining it as well.  

If you are often thinking about something else when engaged in an activity, or a conversation, then you may need some practice to bring your attention back to the present moment and be able to stay there. Think of it as a waking meditation practice.

Avoid excessive alcohol (and drugs)

Avoid damage and oxidative stress to your brain cells (and the rest of your body) with excessive alcohol and drugs. This will only negate all the good work you are doing in other ways.

Look after your nutrition

Eating well and putting the right things into your body stimulates healing, regeneration and detoxification of cells. Oils such as Omega 3’s, Vitamin B’s, Vitamin K and Vitamin E are all important for making sure that our brain cells communicate with each other. The antioxidants in these foods clean out free radicals which damage our brain cells.

For more about this topic, see our blog on 5 Ways to Maintain Brain Health as You Age

Find ways to minimise stress

Prolonged stress and tension may cause memory loss. Find ways to spend time in nature, go for walks and relax to give your brain time out from having to manage increased levels of cortisol because of increased stress in your life.

Alternatively, join a local meditation group or download some mindfulness audio tracks that you can listen to daily to calm the mind and slow its brain waves down to a more steady and balanced rhythm.

Play games and do activities that strengthen the brain

Do crossword puzzles, play fish with the grandkids, practice remembering phone numbers, go grocery shopping without a list occasionally. The brain is a problem solving instrument and wants to be put to work.

All the little things we do like these will help maintain your working memory and long-term memory. 

St Louis focus on health and wellbeing as the goal for all our clients

At St Louis Aged Care, the health and wellbeing of our residents and clients is paramount and we are always staying abreast of new ways to promote health and wellbeing.

We run art and drama therapy programs, exercise classes for over 50’s and we have many and varied social events to keep our clients socially active. Whether you are looking for residential aged care, an independent living unit, or help to stay at home with a home care package, we are here to help you.

Call us on 8332 0950 to discuss your needs or the needs of a loved one who may be needing some assistance in their older years. 

Other blogs of interest:

5 Ways to Maintain Brain Health as You Age 

Strength For Life – Exercise For The Elderly For Good Brain Health

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