Protecting Your Memory

Protecting Your Memory as You Grow Older

What many people fear is the thought of losing their memory. This fear grows the older a person gets. It’s a big deal because the memory is what contains the life of each person.

The memories that we have are what make us who we are. So to lose that, makes many people feel as if they’ve lost a part of themselves. And to be lost to yourself can be a terribly upsetting experience.

That’s why – when people start noticing that they’re forgetting things – it can make them clam up. They begin to wonder if what’s going on is just part of ordinary forgetfulness or if it’s something more insidious.

Normal Versus Age-Related Forgetfulness

It’s perfectly normal to forget things sometimes. You can read through the following list of forgetfulness that most people experience. Forgetting situations or facts relating to situations is normal.

Even if that forgetfulness happened right after you got the information. This is why some students can learn something new in class and the next day, can’t remember certain details about what they were taught.

Your brain is not like a computer. You can’t give it detail after detail and expect it to store it all. Your brain does clear memories – especially if it thinks those memories aren’t crucial.

Being absentminded is also something that’s not a reason to worry. Everyone also experiences this kind of forgetfulness. Your brain carries a lot of information and it will prioritize whatever you make a point of making important to remember. So if you don’t really pay attention to something, your brain doesn’t absorb that information.

For example, when you to the doctor, you might get an appointment card for the time of your next visit three months down the road. If you lose the card, you probably won’t remember when you’re supposed to be at that doctor’s office.

That’s because your brain knew it didn’t have to hold on to that information. You didn’t make it a point of importance to your brain because you were relying on the fact that you had the card.

Blanking is another type of normal forgetfulness. This is when the information is on the cusp of your memory, but you can’t seem to get to it. This happens a lot when you have other memories that are almost identical to the one that you’re trying to grasp.

You might experience this when you’re trying to remember someone’s name or recall who said what during a prior conversation. When your mind blanks while you’re trying to remember something, this is no cause for alarm and it’s not a long-term problem. Most people usually end up remembering exactly what they were looking for.

Getting the details wrong is another form of forgetfulness that’s normal. This is why someone can be telling a story and say, “We were over on Main Street” only to be interrupted by a friend or loved one and be corrected about the street name.

It’s why two people can be in the same situation or take part in the same event and when both people recall these memories later, they’ll both have a different account and both will believe that they’re correct.

Warning signs that forgetfulness may be related to aging are varied. The person can’t seem to remember familiar places, people or items. They get lost easily in their own area such as in their neighborhood.

They drive off to run an errand and can’t recall how to get back to their home. Or they can’t remember how to drive to a business they’ve always been able to drive to before.

Age-related forgetfulness can also manifest itself in forgetting to pay bills when the person has always been so careful before. Watch for changes in an older person’s mood.

If they were always even tempered before, but suddenly develop a raging temper, then that can be a sign of age-related forgetfulness. If someone can’t seem to follow simple directions or exhibits poor judgment-making skills, this can be a sign that something’s not right with his or her memory.

Foods That Power Up and Protect Your Memory

To keep healthy, you want to make sure that you’re eating a well rounded meal plan every day. Include foods from all of the food groups. There are some foods that you’ll want to watch out for – and some that you’ll want to have plenty of because they help boost your memory.

Foods that you will want to keep a close eye on are the ones that have a lot of saturated fat. This type of fat has been connected to studies involving Alzheimer’s Disease.

While you do need fats in your diet, you want to make sure that those fats work to promote memory retention rather than work to tear it down. It might surprise you to learn that many oil based salad dressings can help to stimulate the brain and protect your memory.

That’s because these kinds of salad dressings have a rich supply of the important vitamin E, which has long been known to keep the memory in good shape. It does this because it works to protect the nerve cells in the brain from decline.

In every healthy eating plan, you’ll notice that they mention eating plenty of dark green leafy vegetables. There’s a good reason for this suggestion. Like the oil based salad dressings, these vegetables also contain vitamin E – but they have an extra nutrient that can help your memory.

Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in folate. Many people already know that folate fights against birth defects as well as diseases relating to the heart. But you might not know what it can do for the brain.

Plenty of research shows that consuming plenty of folate rich foods can not only slow the toll that aging can take on the brain, but it also improves memory. If you’re a fan of beans, then you’re in luck.

Beans contain choline. This nutrient is one that’s needed to amp up the memory function of the brain. They also lower the blood pressure. The reason that this is important is because high blood pressure has been linked to vascular dementia.

This occurs because the blood supply to the brain isn’t what it should be when you have high blood pressure. Your brain gets damaged from high blood pressure and almost half of all age-related dementia can be traced back to vascular dementia. So make sure that you get plenty of beans in your diet.

Though not many people care for them, beets are a power food that has a lot of nutrients to help your memory. These vegetables are full of nitrates, which can give you an improvement in concentration and focus.

Nitrates dilate blood vessels. This dilation helps give you greater blood flow within your body – and that includes to the brain. Plus, they can also lower blood pressure.

Shrimp is another food that can help you with your memory. Shrimp contains a lot of B12 and omega 3, both of which improve memory function in the brain. Shrimp is also used topically in some anti aging treatments.

Play Games to Retain and Strengthen Your Memories

Getting older can automatically cause a decline in the brain’s skills, especially in the memory department – but you can fight back against this by having fun. Mental exercises done through games can strengthen your memory the same way that physical exercise strengthens your muscles.

You have to stimulate your brain to keep it active so that you don’t lose memory retention. This is one reason that when some people retire, they can experience a decline in mental function.

Their brain isn’t being stimulated the way that it once was. You’ll want to look for games that challenge your brain and not something that you can just mindlessly play.

As soon as you do master a game, you’ll want to move on to a new one or a next level – to keep the challenge level high. Look for games that require you to do a lot of thinking.

Having to come up with a strategy to beat a game engages your brain even after you’ve stopped playing the game. Some good games that you can do are things that are like puzzles.

Sudoku is a great example of this. This puzzle can have nine squares and in those nine squares, there are smaller squares. Random numbers are already present within these smaller squares.

Based on the numbers that are present, you have to figure out which numbers then go in the blank squares. This is an excellent brain game because studies have shown that puzzles combined with numbers do stimulate the brain.

Solving 3D puzzles can also give your brain a memory boost. A puzzle like Rubik’s Cube can keep your brain stimulated for hours. Memory matching games like Mahjongg are also helpful.

In this game, you have to find the matching pairs that are free. But you have to be careful – because if you free the wrong pairs, you won’t be able to eliminate all of them.

Card games that require you to use reasoning are also good. You’ll find ones like solitaire or spider solitaire online. Also, search for crossword puzzles to do. You have to engage in playing brain games regularly in order to get the most benefit from them for your memory.

It’s not just handheld games or online games that can challenge your brain that can improve your memory. Playing video games can stimulate the cognitive control and when this is stimulated, it helps improve memory function.

While you might think that playing video games is only for young people, studies have shown some amazing results when older people play these games. In fact, studies have shown that playing certain video games can improve memory skills.

But that’s not the only good news. Playing video games specifically intended to boost the memory skills can actually combat memory loss that’s already happened.

By playing the video games that stimulate certain portions of the brain, those experiencing memory loss can actually see a reversal in their symptoms. So if you’ve been having trouble with memory loss, get started playing those video games.

Not only will you improve your memory, but you’ll gain a new skill that you can share with your grandchildren. If you can find the games that involve standing and exercise, like Wii or Kinect, you’ll get other health benefits, too.

Exercising to Keep Your Brain Functioning in Great Shape

Aging can bring on cognitive decline with memory function and you don’t have to be a senior citizen for this decline to begin. But there are ways that you can keep your brain in top shape and keep your memory function healthy.

The cerebral cortex is instrumental in memory function and not all of it takes place in the same location of the brain. The frontal lobe part of your cerebral cortex is what’s responsible for both the long term as well as the short term memory storage.

But other parts of your brain also play important parts and each cognitive part of memory function is further divided in other portions. This is why you have to keep your brain stimulated as a whole.

Exercise that you can do to strengthen your body will also strengthen the cells in your brain. These cells are what handle the memory areas located in various places inside your brain.

Working out has a positive molecular effect on your brain. All it takes is 20 to 30 minutes of exercise to stimulate your brain and to improve your brain’s ability to retain memory function.

Exercising causes several good things to go on inside your body and inside your brain. When you exercise, you’re improving your muscle tone, your heart health and you feel better.

But besides that, your body goes to work producing all sorts of hormones. These hormones are what then turn around and help the function of your brain cells. Not only does it help the function of the brain cells that you currently have, but exercise also promotes the growth of new ones.

If you exercise at least twenty minutes every day, you can vastly improve your brain’s ability to hold onto its ability to keep the memory banks in good working order.

Increase Your Learning and Keep More of Your Memories

Mental stimulation is what helps you keep your brain working the way that it should. To keep your brain’s memory function working well, you have to give it plenty of activity to think about or do.

Neurons in your brain are what are linked to keeping the cells in the brain healthy. In order to be healthy, your brain needs BDNF or brain derived neurotrophic factor.

This is a protein. The function or job of this protein is to grow and keep the brain’s nerve cells healthy. Without this crucial protein functioning the way that it should, you experience memory loss as well as other brain function loss.

Learning is a form of exercise for your brain. It doesn’t matter what you’re learning. All forms of learning are stimulating to the brain. You can gain valuable memory boosts from learning a new skill or picking up a hobby that you’ve always wanted to try.

When they get older, some people take classes on subjects they’ve always wanted to learn but didn’t have time to take when they were younger. Learning a new language can help stimulate the portion of the brain that controls verbal memories.

You can join a gardening club and combine your enjoyment of gardening with learning more about it. At the same time, you’ll be getting exercise while working in the garden.

Plus, you’ll have valuable social interaction. All of these work to help the brain improve any age-related memory issues. If you’ve always wanted to go back to school and get a college degree or to try a few classes, then ago ahead and do it.

While you’re learning, you’ll also be improving your memory. The key to keeping your brain’s memory healthy is to stay as mentally and physically active as you possibly can.

Maintaining Your Independence and Mobility

As you get older, mobility can sometimes become an issue. No one ever wants to need help with mobility and everyone wants to be independent. But sometimes, there are just certain tasks that can become more difficult to do as you get older.

There are certain things you can do to stay independent. But other tasks, you’ll find that it’s easier to delegate them to someone else. Not only that, but forcing yourself to go past what your body is capable of can result in injuries that are permanent or more life-threatening.

You can safely increase your abilities by becoming more flexible, and by strength training and working on your core for balance.

Mobility in Your Daily Living

Staying mobile and independent is what all senior citizens want. They have a strong desire to do what they’ve always done while still living in their own home. With a few adjustments, this is possible.

What those adjustments will need to be depends on your current mobility level – and any issues you may be having with it. Changes can be made in your home that can help with any issues that might cause you problems.

For example, if you have trouble maintaining your balance when you’re getting in and out of the tub, grab rails can be added along the sides of the tub for you to hold onto.

You can also have the toilet raised so that it’s at an easier height for you. You want to remain as active as you possibly can because this helps you retain mobility longer.

Plus, when you’re more active, it helps you maintain your overall health. Aging simply means that your body may slow down, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t do what you enjoy doing – and that includes exercising.

If you don’t currently exercise, you may want to look into getting started. The reason for this is because exercise can help you maintain vitality, good heart health and strong muscles.

Not only that, but staying active can also keep up the dexterity in your limbs. Look for things that you can do that can help keep those muscles moving right. You can take up knitting or cross-stitch to keep your fingers and hands mobile. Working puzzles can also help – as can things like woodcarving.

One of the major motility issues that face people who grow older is accidental falls. This can be because as you age, your balance isn’t what it once was. This can be directly related to blood pressure, certain medications you may be on and losing elasticity in your veins.

So what you want to do is make sure that your home is as fall proof as possible. If you use area rugs in some of the rooms in your home, you may want to put those away. Tripping over a floor rug is a big contributor to falls.

Because you can experience vision changes that come along with getting older, you might find it helpful to sleep with some kind of light on when you go to bed. This way, if you get up in the middle of the night for any reason, you can see well enough to keep from stumbling around and injuring yourself or falling.

In the kitchen, you can move things that are out of reach and need a stepstool to access down into lower cabinets to prevent falls. You want to delegate tasks that are more dangerous for senior citizens to someone else.

For example, bending over into the tub to clean it can lead to a fall. So get a loved one or hire a cleaning service to do some of the heavier daily tasks. What you want to do is to look around your home and consider what might be an issue for you and take care of that before it does become one.

You want to do this with everyday tasks as well as any repairs or home maintenance that needs to be handled. Make sure that you still have the ability to take care of your physical needs.

If you can still cook for yourself, then do that. If you can’t, then have someone make your meals a week’s worth at a time so that when you’re ready to eat, you can just pop it into the stove or microwave.

Staying Behind the Wheel

Most states have laws regarding the elderly and having a driver’s license. You must be able to pass a vision test every time that you have your license renewed. If you do it online rather than visiting the DMV, you must submit proof that you’ve had and passed a recent eye exam done at your optometrist’s office.

The reason that the states require this is because as you grow older, you can experience some struggles with vision as well as with certain tasks related to driving.

Keeping their ability to drive is extremely important for senior citizens. It represents the freedom to come and go as you please. Just because you get older, that doesn’t mean that you need to stop driving.

As long as you’re not having any issues, there’s no reason that you need to give it up. Check your car’s seat alignment and raise it if it needs to be raised. Also, make sure that you can comfortably see in all of the mirrors.

As you do get older, there can sometimes be issues with driving. By making some modifications, you can keep your driver’s license. If you’ve noticed older drivers before, especially on the interstate, many of them are driving at speeds that are well below the speed limit.

This can be dangerous for all of the other drivers as well as yourself. Even though the older drivers are simply being cautious and desire to drive at a safe speed for themselves, it can still pose a problem.

If you’ve been having some age related mobility issues and you still want to drive, what you can do is make some simple adjustments. For example, just make sure that you drive shorter distances.

Stay on roads that are familiar to you – and go to local establishments. If you’ve been having some vision problems, avoid driving during the evening hours when visibility can be an issue.

If you do happen to need to drive on the interstate or go a long distance, get someone to go with you that can make the trip with you. You’ll also gain the benefit of getting to spend some time with a friend or loved one.

Don’t drive when the weather is bad. As you get older, your reaction times can slow down. So if the rain is coming down in sheets, wait until the weather has cleared before you go out in the car. Same rule applies if there’s snowy weather.

Getting to and from your vehicle in winter weather can make it easier to slip on an icy walkway. Make sure that you have someone maintain the care of your vehicle such as with the tires and wiper blades – things that can impact your driving.

Keeping Up at Work

A few years ago, most people would retire around the age of 65. But that’s no longer the case. Many people are working well into their nineties – some because it helps with finances and others because they like having the interaction with other people.

They enjoy what they do. Depending on what kind of work that you do, there may or may not be some mobility issues. If you work a job that requires you to be on your feet the majority of the day – and that’s causing you some problems, there are some easy steps you can take to make adjustments.

If you need to be off your feet, you can check to see if you can do your job sitting down. Your employer isn’t allowed to discriminate against you because of your age – and many of them will gladly make concessions that enable you to do your job.

Keeping your independence at work depends on how physically demanding your job is. If you have the kind of job where you have to do a lot of heavy lifting, then your body may not be able to put up with loads that you used to handle.

You can always ask to have someone else handle the labor part of your job while allowing you to handle the tasks that require brainpower over brawn. If you’re still able to work and you enjoy what you do but it is a bit taxing on you, then you can ask your employer if it’s possible for you to scale back on some of your hours.

Many aging men and women find it more beneficial to go from working full time at their job to keeping part time hours instead. Some people don’t want to cut back on their hours – but still need some adjustments in order to be able to continue on in the job.

If you find it tougher to get your work done or some tasks are beyond your physical capabilities, then ask your boss if you can cut back on some of your duties.

If you are self-employed with a long history of running your own business, what you can do is to appoint someone as your overseer. This person can manage the more taxing aspects of the job freeing you up to handle whatever you still feel physically and mentally able to take on.

When You Need to Outsource

It makes sense that you would want to outsource certain duties that can become too difficult for you to take care of. One of these things can be taking care of the lawn.

It can be too much to have to wrestle the lawn mower free from where you keep it covered. Plus, if you use a mower that has a bag, it can be too heavy to remove and dump the clippings.

However, if you’ve always enjoyed being outside and taking care of your yard, there are still some things you can do. But physically demanding jobs like mowing the grass can be passed on to someone else.

You can use a lawn care service that will take care of mowing the grass as well as making sure that your lawn is edged. This same company can also make sure that the leaves are raked and bagged every fall.

Just because it becomes necessary for you to have someone else mow and take care of the grass, doesn’t mean that you have to give up doing what you like to do outside.

If you’ve always enjoyed gardening, since this is less physically demanding than mowing, there’s no reason why you can’t continue doing it. You may have to make a few concessions – such as using a gardening stool or switching to raised flower or vegetable beds, but you can still enjoy it.

Taking care of a garden helps you engage in physical activity that’s good for you because it doesn’t tax your joints or put too much demand on your muscles.

Knowing When It’s Time to Compromise

No matter how much you value your independence, there may come a time when you have to have some help. Assisted living facilities can help you while still allowing you to maintain some independence.

There’s a checklist that you can look at to see if it’s time for you to get some help with your day-to-day living through an assisted living facility. You may find yourself struggling to keep up with the chores at home.

The house isn’t kept as neat or as clean as you once could keep it. Things begin to pile up because you just can’t keep everything where it needs to go. On the outside, your home shows signs of maintenance neglect.

You might see boards on the porch that need to be fixed, leaves piled high in the gutter or debris from the wind that’s littered about your yard. Maybe the grass is taller than you’d like it to be because you can’t handle the lawn care any more.

Eating healthy meals becomes a challenge because you struggle to prepare your food. You find it difficult to make sure that you get the groceries that you need because of transportation or lifting issues.

It’s a struggle to do the necessary shopping when you are able to go to the store. You don’t drive as much any more or you don’t drive at all. Making sure that you get the right medication at the right time is sometimes a problem.

All of these are signs that you could benefit from assisted living help. Many seniors automatically picture being stuck in a small room in a nursing home when they think about assisted living.

But that’s not the case with facilities that specialize in helping senior citizens maintain their mobility and independence. What these facilities have is a wide range of services that they offer to senior citizens.

These facilities aren’t imposing brick buildings that look like hospitals. Most of them are gorgeous apartments or homes within a community.

They have hair salons, banking ability and even restaurants. Some have libraries. Living in an assisted living facility allows you do the things you enjoy but gives you peace of mind knowing that when you need help, it’s there.

You won’t have to depend on family or friends to help take care of whatever it is that you need done.

Eventually, as you need help, you’ll find basic care needs help such as getting ready for the day if you need help getting dressed. You’ll also find people on hand to help with any grooming or hygiene needs.

There won’t be any need for you to deal with maintenance issues because they’re all taken care of by the facility. Most of these facilities do all of the cooking for the residents of the community.

The floor designs are made specifically for the comfort and safety of senior citizens. There are social programs that help combat loneliness and many of these facilities offer companionship pairing.

You’ll be able to engage in many activities including exercise programs tailored to meet your needs. Your personal studio or home will have housekeeping provided and there will be on call medical personnel. There may also be 24 hour nursing care available.

In terms of anti aging, when it comes to mobility and maintaining your independence, it’s all about staying safe and being cautious. You want to work on your health and stay active during this time, but also be sensible and watch out for signs of aging as they appear so that you can take appropriate action.

Don’t look at the focus of your ability to get around and take care of yourself as a sign of aging. Look at it as preventative measures meant to provide you with longevity so that you can enjoy your life – and your friends and loved ones – for longer than you ever thought possible.

Usually, it’s those who don’t take precautions who end up succumbing to a disability like a fall that causes a broken hip. That can take you from not having a care in the world, to having your world turned upside down because you’re mobile one minute and bedridden the next. Don’t let that happen to you – protect yourself as you age and keep your youthful mobility intact.