Friday, March 8, 2013
Health Care and Senior Memory Loss
Any of these types of memory loss are topics for further discussion. This particular blog post deals in greater detail with memory loss for seniors, who are more likely than the general population to have multiple issues concerning the lack of ability to remember who, what, when, and where, and sometimes how.
As you age your brain begins to shrink naturally, according to this web article by Kenney Myers: "24 BLOGS WITH THINGS YOU CAN DO TO KEEP YOUR BRAIN SHARP AS YOU AGE". However, if you eat right and stay active you can actually reverse the shrinkage. Another way to keep your brain sharp is by using your brain to do puzzles that will challenge you. You can also take a class. When you are learning something new, you are using a different part of your brain, and in essence you are exercising your mind. One of the easiest ways to keep your brain sharp is to stay socially active, whether it’s in person or online. There are 24 tips providing you some more ideas of things you can do to keep your brain in tip top shape, located at this site: http://www.kenneymyers.com/blog/24-blogs-with-things-you-can-do-to-keep-your-brain-sharp-as-you-age/ .
According to The Record Searchlight in Redding, California, medical professionals classify diseases and disorders according to stages. There is such a classification for dementia called the Global Deterioration Scale for Dementia that runs from Stage 1 (no symptoms present) to the final Stage 7, where the brain loses the ability to tell the body what to do. Do you keep your medications and vitamins in containers with the names of the days? Do you have to make a to-do list or a shopping list when you go to the grocery store? Have you ever misplaced your reading glasses or keys? The good news is that the Global Deterioration Scale for Dementia includes a further description of Stage 2: "This stage would be similar to how a normal adult would function under high stress or fatigue."
Dementia is a growing disease among our elderly population. Most of us know someone who has dementia or is dealing with a loved one afflicted by the disease. It is scary to think about the possibility that is could happen to you. So it is natural to be concerned when you can't recall a name or misplace something important.
There is a difference between forgetfulness and memory loss. According to The Record Searchlight, you probably forgot to do things and misplaced your stuff when you were younger and didn't worry about it. Your brain is largest in your 20s and after that you slowly lose brain cells and make fewer chemicals that help your brain cells work. As you get older, it may be hard to tell whether moments of forgetfulness are normal and simply inconvenient, or the start of something more serious. When forgetfulness becomes consistent and produces strange things, it may be time to talk to your doctor. Here are some examples:
--Losing your keys is OK. Finding your keys and not knowing their function is not.
--Putting your hairbrush in the second drawer of your vanity instead of the top drawer is OK. Putting your hairbrush in the freezer is not.
--Getting lost in a new town or place is OK. Getting lost in your own neighborhood is not.
--Forgetting the name of an acquaintance you rarely see is OK. Forgetting the name of one your children is not.
More info about this topic can also be found at this website: http://www.redding.com/news/2011/jul/20/senior-living-when-to-know-when-memory-loss-is-a/ .
If you're concerned about your senior moments, it's important to discuss your symptoms with a physician. According to Duke Health, start with your primary care physician. A general internist or family physician can do a lot to uncover problems that may be contributing to memory loss. A review of your current prescription and non-prescription medications is essential, because many medications can affect memory and overall brain function.
Often, your primary care physician will be able to diagnosis the reason for your memory difficulties. However, specialists may be useful when the exact diagnosis remains unclear or the patient and family desire a second opinion. There are three types of specialty physicians who evaluate memory problems: neurologists, psychiatrists, and geriatricians.
Even when memory loss is not indicative of dementia, other illness, or medication effects, it can still be troublesome. Here are some ideas to help keep your memory as sharp as possible. Simple changes that help you stay organized can greatly improve your daily function and decrease the anxiety that occurs when items are misplaced or events missed, according to Duke Health. For example:
• Keep a calendar and write down all important information.
• Always put your keys in the same place.
• Schedule bill payment and other important tasks.
• Make lists and check off tasks that have been accomplished.
In the meantime, it's worth keeping in mind that, for most older adults, senior moments are simply momentary annoyances that do not represent anything more serious. And because a growing body of research proves the close connection between mental and physical health, you can enhance your mental function by taking steps to make your overall lifestyle healthier and more active. For much more detailed material about memory loss, go to this website: http://www.dukehealth.org/health_library/health_articles/memory_loss_when_to_worry .
According to this article: http://www.helpguide.org/life/prevent_memory_loss.htm , the same practices that contribute to healthy aging and physical vitality also contribute to healthy memory. Here are some tips to help you if you want to deal with preventing or slowing memory loss:
• Exercise regularly. Regular exercise boosts brain growth factors and encourages the development of new brain cells. Exercise also reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exercise also makes a huge difference in managing stress and alleviating anxiety and depression—all of which leads to a healthier brain.
• Stay social. People who don’t have social contact with family and friends are at higher risk for memory problems than people who have strong social ties. Social interaction helps brain function in several ways: it often involves activities that challenge the mind, and it helps ward off stress and depression. So join a book club, reconnect with old friends, or visit the local senior center. Being with other people will help keep you sharp!
• Watch what you eat. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink green tea as these foods contain antioxidants in abundance, which can keep your brain cells from “rusting.” Foods rich in omega-3 fats (such as salmon, tuna, trout, walnuts, and flaxseed) are particularly good for your brain and memory. Eating too many calories, though, can increase your risk of developing memory loss or cognitive impairment. Also avoid saturated and trans fats, which can help your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of stroke.
• Manage stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, damages the brain over time and can lead to memory problems. But even before that happens, stress causes memory difficulties in the moment. When you’re stressed out, you’re more likely to suffer memory lapses and have trouble learning and concentrating.
• Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is necessary for memory consolidation, the process of forming and storing new memories so you can retrieve them later. Sleep deprivation also reduces the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus and causes problems with memory, concentration, and decision-making. It can even lead to depression—another memory killer.
• Don’t smoke. Smoking heightens the risk of vascular disorders that can cause stroke and constrict arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain.
When you get older, your brain can play tricks on you. Age is not always the sign of wisdom if you have too much memory loss. Work with your physician, family, and friends to find ways to help keep you mentally sharp. Exercise as much as possible, and eat well. Avoid habits that drain you. The longer you avoid dealing with losing your memory, the quicker it will happen. Do your best to keep your mind active. No one wants to be forgetful, but seniors especially hate losing what they spent a life time to remember.
Until next time.