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How to improve memory when you get older

Old person with a picture by Nutmeg Senior Riders

Some memory loss is common with aging. Maybe you can remember things from a long time ago but have trouble remembering new information. Average memory loss does not get worse and does not affect daily activities. Memory loss that gets worse over time or affects daily activities may signify a serious medical problem, such as Alzheimer's disease. Talk to your doctor if you or someone close to you notices that your memory is getting worse.

Many older people worry about their memory and other thinking skills. For example, they may worry about taking longer than before to learn new things or sometimes forgetting to pay a bill. These changes are usually signs of mild forgetfulness, often a normal part of aging, rather than serious memory problems.

What are some signs and symptoms of memory loss that occur with aging? Here we show you some examples or symptoms:

  • You can't remember where you put your keys or glasses.

  • Difficulty remembering the name of a familiar person, but then remembering it.

  • Trouble remembering why you entered a room.

  • You missed an appointment because you forgot about it.

  • You forget a birthday or anniversary.

What brain changes are regular for older adults?

Our brain achieves complete development when we are around our twenties. After that, we start to lose brain volume gradually. Over time, blood flow in our brain decreases. The good news is that many studies have shown that the brain is still capable of regeneration and learning and retaining new facts and skills over time and keeping new facts and skills throughout life, especially for people who exercise regularly and stimulate the brain intellectually.

Although there are huge differences between individuals, some cognitive abilities continue to improve into old age. Some are constant, and some decline.

Possible causes of memory problems

If you or a loved one has memory problems that are more bothersome than you would normally expect, don't assume Alzheimer's or another form of dementia is the reason. Memory failures can be caused by many physical and psychological conditions that are reversible.

Fundamentally, it is vital that you identify your situation to know if you have a memory problem. If it is necessary, you will have to treat that condition. For example, the following common conditions can cause memory problems:

  • Anxiety

  • Dehydration

  • Depression

  • Infections

  • Medication side effects

  • Poor nutrition

  • Psychological stress

  • Substance abuse

  • Thyroid imbalance

It is essential to discuss these and other possible causes of memory problems with your physician and have a complete medical examination. You must ask a psychologist to verify your mental conditions. Some of the reasons mentioned above are related to our minds.

What can I do to prevent worsening memory loss?

  • Play mental games

Do not underestimate the power of simple games. These mental games can help you to improve your memory. For instance, puzzles or math games. There are different options that you can consider. Specially it is important that you enjoy these activities.

  • Spend time with other people

This activity can help strengthen your memory, especially if you talk about past or upcoming events.

  • Take a class to learn something new

This activity will help you think in new ways and make your memory work harder.

  • Exercise

Experts have increasing evidence that physical exercise in older adults helps prevent a decline in people's cognitive abilities. They also claim that just 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, such as walking or cycling, or 75 minutes of intense activity, such as running or playing soccer, are very positive for slowing down the passage of time in our memory.

  • Create a bedtime routine

It is an excellent habit that you wake up and go to sleep every day at the same hour. Sleeping is essential for memory. Check with your doctor if you have sleeping problems.

  • Do not smoke

Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your brain. This decision can make memory problems worse. Ask your doctor for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco also contain nicotine. Check with your doctor before using these products.

  • Limit or do not drink alcohol

Alcohol can lead to short-term and long-term memory problems. Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to drink alcohol and how much is safe.

  • Foods to improve memory

In addition to exercising and the previous tips, you should also watch what you eat. Certain foods can help us improve our memory, concentration, coordination, and reasoning. A series of foods that we should eat to exercise our memory and not suffer senile dementia are recommended. It can be as simple as learning to eat right:

  • Caffeine

It is known that caffeine enhances some memories up to 24 hours after being consumed. This was determined by a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, which proved through an experiment that a good coffee could be the key to starting the day with good memory.

  • Complex carbohydrates

They are not the best for dieting, but they are the best for memory. For instance, bread, crackers, and pasta. These carbohydrates release L-Tryptophan, an amino acid that is absorbed by the brain. The consumption of this type of food considerably increases your concentration when performing various activities. Despite its benefits, consuming too many could make you sleepy or tired. As for pasta, it has another property besides relaxation: it provides glucose to the brain, helping it to work correctly and improve memory.

  • Proteins

Proteins release L-tyrosine, an amino acid that synthesizes noradrenaline (a hormone that increases blood pressure and heart rate), and dopamine, which regulates the duration of information. This 'decision' process by which a memory either fades or remains in our brain is closely related to the concept of learning. If we learn something that makes us feel excited, we active dopamine, and the information will be remembered in an easier way. That is why it is good to consume foods that contain them, such as chicken, eggs, fish, salmon and sardines.

When to seek help for memory loss

If you are concerned about memory loss, mainly if it affects your ability to perform your daily activities or if you notice your memory getting worse, talk to your doctor. They will probably do a physical exam and check your memory and problem-solving skills. Sometimes other tests are also needed because they will determine the required treatment.

At Nutmeg Senior Rides, we help you to go everywhere you need. If you want to become a member do not hesitate to contact us.

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