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Memory loss affects young and old

Memory loss affects young and old

When we think of memory loss, the picture of a person in their 50s, 60s, or 70s usually comes to mind. But younger people can suffer from memory loss, and it appears that our lifestyle choices may be to blame.

Fourteen percent of men and women between the age of 18 and 39 complain of poor memory. Researchers say that's because our habit of multi-tasking, high-stress jobs, time spent looking at screens and never being fully present in the current moment make the process of remembering that much more difficult.

Want to improve, or at least preserve, your memory? Here are some thoughts on the subject:

  • Get sufficient sleep. Sleep is when your brain processes the activities of the day, forming and reinforcing memories. Lack of sleep interferes with this process.
  • Stay physically active. Aerobic exercise (running, jogging, bicycling), appears to have a greater effect than strength training.
  • Stop tobacco use. Smoking interferes with the body’s ability to get oxygen to the brain. An oxygen-starved brain doesn’t work as well.
  • Eat a diet that’s low in saturated and trans fats. These fats can lead to the buildup of plaque in the cerebral arteries, making it difficult for the brain to get the oxygen it needs to work efficiently. Choose from a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats to give your brain and body the nutrients they need.
  • You know what alcohol and substance abuse do to your brain. Seek help.

Keep your brain firing on all circuits by continually challenging it. Learn a new hobby, enroll in a class, join a book club, play chess or bridge, learn to play a musical instrument. Get outdoors and take a walk. At work, take on tasks that are new to you and mentally challenging.

Learning new things exercises the brain, helping it to form new connections and preserve its flexibility.

If your memory problems are more severe than forgetting your car keys from time to time, talk to your primary care provider about the issues you’re having. A referral to a neurologist – a specialist in the health of your brain and nervous system – may be in order. King’s Daughters neurologists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of neurological disorders, including memory, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The practice can be reached at (606) 408-2820.