Five Simple Ways to Slow Memory Loss
We all know that forgetfulness comes with age. But what happens when forgetting something small becomes a chronic problem that escalates with time. Unfortunately, memory loss is a very common concern for our seniors and those of us who care for them. We can take comfort, however, in knowing that there are some simple ways to improve memory that aren’t going to take too much effort or time. In this article, we list five ways you can care for your senior, and hopefully slow memory loss due to aging.
Get Some Sleep
Sleep is a big deal. From infants to teenagers to our elderly population, we all need restful, quality sleep. We wake up refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of the day. The National Sleep Foundation has identified the various things that happen in our bodies while we sleep. While we sleep, our brain does some vital work. Sleep triggers changes in the brain that strengthen memories. Sleep reinforces the connections between the brain and helps in transferring short-term memories to long-term memories.
So the big question is, how much sleep should my favorite senior be getting. Seniors tend to need between 6 and 9 hours as an average. It is also worthwhile to note that sleep quality matters. Studies have shown that disturbed and interrupted sleep prevents the brain from doing the work needed to enhance memory. We all know that not getting enough sleep results in tired, distracted people who struggle to focus their attention. The same is true for the complex memory work that’s being done while we sleep.
Make Smart Food Choices
It probably won’t come as a surprise that foods labeled as high in saturated fats aren’t good for your heart and circulatory system. But did you know that the fatty foods that cause LDL cholesterol (the bad one) are also bad for your brain? With health, the name of the game is to increase HDL (the good one) and decrease LDL.
Take note of your special senior’s diet. It’s smart to guide them toward foods that are high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These would include veggies, fruit, fish, vegetables, etc. Scientific evidence backs up the nutrients found in these foods will increase levels of HDL. We want our blood vessels to remain open and unclogged. Open blood vessels will put seniors at less risk for a stroke or other health problems that coincide with blood flow to the brain.
Move Your Body
Exercise is beneficial for all ages! There have been many studies showing that seniors who engaged in even the most gentle of movements had a higher resting blood flow to the brain. These gentle activities can be a walk on a treadmill or a ride on a stationary bike for an hour 3 times per week. Sustaining this exercise for more than six weeks will bring more noticeable changes. The increased blood flow to areas of the brain associated with memory will help slow memory loss.
It is also valuable to point out that physical exercise improves mood. Mood is heightened by supplying endorphins to the brain. Exercise also can provide opportunities for social interaction, which also improves memory function.
Reading. Sudoku. Crafting. Card games. It is essential to exercise the mind as well as the body as we age. Consider encouraging your senior to learn a new skill, do crossword or math puzzles or find a group to play cards with. All of these activities–and so many more–are proven to improve cognitive function and memory. If you are interested in ideas for mental exercises, there are many ideas for apps, websites, and paper activity books on the internet.
Quality time spent with family and friends is good for the soul…and the mind! Even as little as 10 minutes of social interaction per day can show improvement in mental health, memory, and slowing of memory loss. Studies show that maintaining social activity is crucial for seniors’ mental health.
Next time you are visiting with your senior loved one, take note of how they are doing. We can often measure their well-being through simple conversation and observing their everyday movements and activities. Is Dad having trouble getting around the house or struggling with mobility issues? Is Mom’s speech slower? Were they having difficulty keeping up during a conversation? Perhaps they seem more forgetful than usual, like not remembering significant dates or parts of their daily routine. Maybe your loved one simply feels lonely? An in-home caregiver may be just the solution you need. Such a person can help with these concerns or even provide some much-needed company. When you can’t be there to look in on your aging loved one, it will bring you peace of mind to know that another trusted person is.
Learn more about how Caregivers United can help support your aging parent or special relative by bringing quality care to your loved one at their home. Call (941) 225-0055 to schedule a free in-home consultation or find us on Facebook and Twitter!