As many as four in 10 people 65 years or older have age-related memory impairment. In the US, this translates to about 16 million elderly adults.
However, just because aging is beyond your control doesn’t mean memory loss is, too. Some people in their 80s or even 90s have brains so sharp they’re similar to people 30 years younger than them!
That’s proof enough that memory loss prevention is possible and doable.
To that end, we created this guide listing some of the science-backed ways to keep your memory intact. Read on so that you can start taking better care of your gray and white matter.
Drink in Moderation
Alcohol consumption can cause both short-term (prospective) and long-term (retrospective) memory loss.
Short-term memory loss, sometimes called a blackout, usually occurs after binge drinking. Binge drinking, in turn, is the consumption of five or more standard drinks within two hours. Either way, blackouts can make a person forget what happened while they were drinking.
On the other hand, frequent bouts of heavy drinking can cause long-term memory loss. That’s because alcohol can damage the hippocampus. It’s a brain structure critical to memory and learning.
Over time, excessive alcohol use can make the hippocampus shrink. As a result, the brain might become unable to learn and remember what it already learned. That’s how retrospective memory loss can occur due to heavy drinking.
For those reasons, one of the best ways to prevent memory loss is to drink in moderation. Of course, you can also choose not to drink, but if you do, limit it to two standards drink a day (for men) or one (for women).
Get Enough Thiamine
Thiamine, more popularly known as vitamin B1, is an essential vitamin, as the body can’t make it on its own. Like all B vitamins, thiamine aids the body in converting food into energy sources.
Moreover, vitamin B1 is integral to the creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP, in turn, is a molecule that carries energy within the cells.
In addition, it appears that thiamine plays a role in cognitive retention. According to scientists, vitamin B1 deficiency can be a factor in alcohol-related dementia.
That’s another reason to avoid or restrict alcohol intake. However, some people, such as aging adults and vegans, may also be at risk of vitamin B1 deficiency. That’s because both groups may have a limited intake of food containing thiamine.
If you have aging parents, they may be at risk of a nutritional deficiency due to decreased appetite. Since thiamine is not widely present in many food products, it might be one of the nutrients they lack.
Vegans and vegetarians may also be at risk, as pork, fish, and yogurt are some of the most common sources of vitamin B1.
Fortunately, thiamine is also in beans, lentils, green peas, and sunflower seeds. In addition, fortified products like breakfast cereals and bread also come with thiamine.
With that said, make sure that you or your aging loved ones incorporate more of those items in your meals. This way, you can avoid vitamin B1 deficiency that can raise risks of memory woes.
Watch Your Weight
One study found that thiamine deficiency affected 15.5% to 29% of people with obesity. This finding suggests that weight can impair how the body uses and requires thiamine. As a result, obesity may also be a factor in thiamine-related memory problems.
The American Cancer Society has resources to help calculate body mass index (BMI). Use these calculators and charts to determine where your weight stands.
Put More Pep Into Your Step
More evidence has popped up suggesting that exercise is one of the best brain boosters.
For example, a 2020 study looked at the effects of aerobic exercise versus stretching. The 30 participants were at least 60 years old, and all of them had memory issues. Half of them went on a 12-month aerobic program, while the other half performed stretches.
After the study, those who exercised showed a 47% improvement in their memory scores. On the other hand, the stretching group only had minimal changes. One reason cited was the increased blood flow into the hippocampus in the exercise group.
Moreover, exercise is one of the best ways to help you lose or maintain a healthy weight. In addition, it can also help improve mood and sleep, which also impact memory. Best of all, exercise benefits the entire body, including the brain, and can help you live longer.
Pick Up a New Skill or Hobby
When you learn something new, you’re activating and exercising regions of your brain. As a result, the brain builds new cells and reinforces existing cell connections. For this reason, trying something new and then improving upon it can help boost your memory.
For instance, one study looked at how learning a new skill can help older adults. The researchers found that it helped increase the cognitive abilities of the participants. Some examples of such skills are photography, playing musical instruments, and even quilting.
That’s also the reason senior care facilities incorporate cognitive stimulation in their services. For example, they offer arts and crafts, music, and even dancing. For a closer look at these memory care services, you can learn more here.
Gamify Your Cognitive Stimulation
A group of researchers looked at the effects of playing games on cognition. Some of the games they reviewed included card games and puzzles.
The researchers found evidence that playing such games can help enhance cognition. They even noted that the more often people play them, the higher their cognitive scores. They also reported that more frequent players have greater gray matter volumes.
So, the next time you want to take a breather, consider playing cards or puzzles. They may not only help you keep your brain sharp; they’re also a great way to pass the time.
Keep Your Brain Sharp With These Tips for Memory Loss Prevention
Please keep in mind that Alzheimer’s disease affects over six million people in the US. Like other dementias, it’s incurable. The good news is that evidence suggests a healthy lifestyle can cut your risk of developing them.
So, as early as today, give these tips for memory loss prevention a well-deserved try. From there, incorporate them into your daily life and turn them into a long-term habit.
Looking for other inspirational ideas on improving your health and lifestyle? Please have a look at our latest informative guides then!