Age associated memory impairment is considered a normal part of the aging process. As our bodies age, there is a noticeable difference in overall functionality for all parts of the body, including the brain. You may notice it takes you a bit longer to learn things or recall information. This is a normal part of the aging process and is not to be confused with signs of more serious cognitive issues such as dementia. Oftentimes, what you deem as memory loss is simply your mind recalling information much slower than it used to. For example, if you find you can’t remember the name of a familiar street when giving directions or the name of a family favorite restaurant, if you think about it long enough, in most cases the information will come to mind.
The human brain is truly magnificent in design. It is capable of producing new cells at any age which means memory loss is not simply an inevitable result of getting older. Think of the brain like a muscle. When working to gain strength, you workout on a regular basis and work towards heavier weight over time. Once you’ve gained strength, you must continue to use those muscles to keep it or eventually you lose it. The brain is no different! Your everyday activity plays a large part in the overall health of your brain. While there are lots of different cognitive skills that can be practiced to help prevent memory loss, maintaining good health and habits in your everyday routine contributes to overall health, including brain health.
Some tips to helping your senior stay mentally sharp:
A healthy diet
What you put into your body is not only affecting your physical health, but also plays a vital role in brain health. There are certain foods that are considered brain healthy foods that are linked to helping fight memory loss. Foods rich in Vitamin E such as almonds, omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseed or salmon, vitamin C rich foods such as oranges, blueberries, broccoli, pumpkin seeds and other fruits and veggies that are antioxidants that help to protect body and brain.
Get the right amount of sleep
Your brain works hard while you sleep to transfer memories from one part of the brain to another where long term memories are stored. Forgetfulness and inability to recall certain types of information is linked to not getting enough sleep or poor sleep quality. Both getting too much or too little sleep can have a negative impact on brain health.
If your senior is able to get out and about on a daily walk, do so! Exercise increases the amount of oxygen flow to the brain and reduces the risk of other health factors that can lead to memory disorders. Exercise reduces stress and contributes to healthy maintenance of blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels. In general, anything good for your heart is also good for your brain.
Physical exercise is a great contributing factor to keeping your brain in good health, but brain specific exercises should be a priority for your senior. The best brain exercises will break routine and challenge your brain by creating new pathways. Learn something new, develop new skills, and challenge yourself mentally. Aside from learning something new, things like puzzles, reading, quizzes and card games are fun ways to keep your brain sharp. Brain exercises at any age is good practice and will help prevent memory loss.
If your senior is in a nursing home or assisted living facility, ask about occupational therapy services. Occupational therapy is not strictly for physical needs, it also provides a number of mental benefits. An occupational therapist can work with your senior to help regain memory skills through memory enhancing activities tailored to their specific needs.
If you have concerns that your senior is experiencing more than age associated memory impairment and worry it may be time to bring in extra help, do not hesitate to reach out to Camelot Senior Living. We have lots of long and short term options and are happy to help.