Memory Loss and Aging

I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. I am a woman who is getting closer to her next birthday who has never been to college. All I have to give is my experience – that’s it. Experience = opinion = my opinion. With that said, I want to dissect the topic of our aging memory. For me, my entire life has been a series of “I can’t remember.” Simply because I have the worst, most awful, memory of anyone I know. It’s got to be an ADD thing – hard for me to stay focused for any length of time. As a side note here, yesterday I spent the ENTIRE day writing an article. It probably would’ve taken anyone else two hours to write what took me from 9am to 5pm to write. All the distractions and lack of focus… My husband had to re-direct me a few times. No really, all true. I can’t believe I actually earned my HS diploma, seriously. If I get dementia I am royally %$#@&* because my short-term memory will be shot and my long-term memory is already close to non-existent. I am truly feeling sorry for my children. I have to remember to be especially nice to them… they will be choosing my nursing home… (that’s if I can remember) Focus, I need to focus.

Let’s Be Serious Now

We’ve all forgotten what we ate for dinner last night, haven’t we? Or where we left our keys. Or my favorite, I make the grocery list and forget to bring it with me to the store – or better yet, I remember to bring it with me, but leave it in the car (and I’m too lazy to walk back out to get it). You know what I call my husband and I? We are each one half of a brain, and together, we make up one whole brain. It’s true, isn’t it? You begin to rely on each other’s memory to help yours. With my father having Alzheimer’s, and my husband’s mom having dementia, we do think about our own memories. Our FADING memories. We don’t think if we forget a word or what we ate for dinner to be serious offenses, but we are a bit mindful. So, when my husband read a little blurb of an article (like the one you’re reading now :)) in the New York Times, titled Muscle Memory, he plopped it on my laptop with a scribble, “Article IDEA, lapses in memory as we age” – I totally got it. Loud and clear. Bottom line, the article said, “As an observational investigation, a one-time snapshot of human capabilities, the study cannot prove that greater fitness is what causes older brains to maintain better processing skills; it can only suggest a correlation.” I decided to do a little more research because I had my own theory, I will get to that in a moment. I landed on the website, Everyday Health. The title of the article was, Tricks to Battle Memory Loss in Menopause, again, they suggested the importance of exercise. “Getting physical isn’t just good for your body. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently reported that aerobic exercise and strength training may help keep your mind in shape, too. They reviewed data from 111 studies and found that exercise may trigger the growth of new nerve cells and blood vessels in the brain. Physical activity also increases the production of chemicals that promote the repair of existing brain cells and the growth of new ones.” Just to be aware, both articles said that exercise MAY help with menopause forgetfulness. The article also goes on to say that getting enough sleep, eating omega-3 fatty acids (salmon), green leafy vegetables, and walnuts will also improve learning and memory. Drinking two glasses of red wine a week (you had me at hello), as it has resveratrol, may keep free radicals from damaging your brain cells. If you are not a drinker, try taking turmeric (I take one capsule every day… makes my pee bright yellow!) which is high in antioxidants. Lastly, the article addresses stress. Ha. It talks about keeping stress to a minimum because too much stress may contribute to memory loss. “Under stress, your body releases the hormone cortisol. Brain researchers believe constant production of cortisol can damage the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.” author, Markham Heid, writes, “But physical activity offers more than just brain fuel. “Some brain regions and functions seem to benefit more than others,” she explains–specifically the frontal lobe, responsible for high-level skills related to complex processes like multitasking. “That tells us aerobic exercise helps the brain work more efficiently.” He also suggests to engage your mind in following a new recipe or having an active social calendar, keeping your mind off of auto-pilot helps to keep it active.

My Conclusion

To get back to my theory. The conclusion I have reached is that all of these suggestions are merely that, suggestions. None of the articles or research claim that if you take omega-3’s, get enough sleep, or exercise daily, that you will never have memory loss. Genetics and lifestyle go hand-in-hand. Of course, the suggestions are healthy and helpful, but it’s not a sure thing. About a year ago I was at a card shop and found the perfect card. It said, “Know what happens when you EAT ORGANIC FOOD, WORK OUT, AND QUIT DRINKING?” (open the card and it says) “Right. YOU DIE ANYWAY.”  ]]>

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