When memory issues arise as you get older, you may begin to worry.
Are they a result of normal aging or could they indicate early stage Alzheimer's disease? Is there even such a thing as normal aging?
Memory issues affect all of us – young and old.
But it's you and me – the senior population - who seem to be more often faced with forgetfulness, brain fog, slowdown in processing information, cognitive decline, and other unpleasant reminders of "aging."
Do you occasionally walk into a room and turn around to retrace your steps hoping to remember why you went there in the first place?
Do you arrive at the grocery store, get the cart and look for your shopping list in vain?
These could be symptoms of a working memory impairment.
Or simply a matter of being absent-minded at times.
Or, it could be a matter of finding yourself in a stressful situation at the time.
It's normal to forget some things. It's also normal to worry about getting more forgetful with age.
Brain researchers actually think it's beneficial because you clear your brain of unused memories, making way for fresh ones. They call this useful forgetfulness transience.
As you get older, so do memories. Sometimes they get distorted and you recall them incorrectly.
There are other minor annoyances.
For example, you run into Bill at the grocery store. You hadn't seen him in a while, but the only name you can come up with is Bob. You just had a conversation with Bob. It's called blocked memory.
Do you ever think you remember something from way back (your childhood maybe) only to realize that it was an event repeatedly told to you by another person? You realize it's not your own memory? It may not have happened at all. Such is the power of suggestion.
I think we tend to forget unpleasant events in favor of pleasant ones. So we remember the good times better. It's a blessing.
Unless one suffers from depression. Depressed people remember negative information more readily than the positive.
Merely getting older is no cause - and certainly no excuse - for memory loss.
What isn't normal about aging is forgetting too much.
When are your memory lapses a symptom of something more serious?
There is a big difference between normal memory issues and more severe problems such as dementia. The latter interferes with the performance of your daily activities.
If you think you're in trouble, talk with your primary physician. Make sure your doctor does not dismiss your concerns. He or she can refer you to a specialist, if he or she determines it's necessary.
In many cases the treatment of a medical condition or of an emotional problem can improve your memory issues. Addressing medication may be of help.
Now, what about lifestyle? How does that affect your brain health?
I firmly believe that the main causes of memory issues such as cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer's disease and other cerebrovascular diseases are not age-related but instead are lifestyle-related.
And these memory issues tend to become more severe over time – again, due to lifestyle, not aging itself.
Alzheimer's of course always ends with the death of the patient. There is no known cure yet – only prevention.
Prevention of mental, physical and nutritional decline is a major focus of this website.
So let's talk a bit about lifestyle and beneficial changes to it…
If you are a senior like me who has so far escaped too much damage from "wear and tear" of your brain due to an unhealthy diet (the Standard American Diet) and lack of exercise, you may want to consider looking into improving these aspects.
Science clearly shows that a healthful whole foods, plant-based diet – in combination with regular exercise - is a winning strategy in preventing toxic conditions that damage your brain, like dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
This way of eating – based on a broad spectrum of nutrient diversity - will give you an excellent way of repairing brain cell damage, protecting against diseases like dementia and living an extended lifespan.
Making positive lifestyle and behavior changes really can forestall memory issues and promote brain health.
It's your health. Just don't forget…
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