In the U.S., 40 million adults over the age of 40 suffer from some form of memory loss, and that number is only expected to increase in the coming years. Memory loss is a serious condition that can make it difficult to manage everyday tasks or perform work essential to everyday life. Thankfully, there are several ways you can prevent memory loss in your future and protect your brain health today. With so many articles out there telling you different things about how to keep your mind active and avoid dementia, it’s hard to know what’s actually helpful and what’s not. To help you cut through the noise and find actionable advice, we spoke with a memory specialist who specializes in helping those who are at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease or other forms of memory loss. Let’s dive into her
Top five tips for preventing memory loss in your future:
Stay physically active
As we age, our bodies become less resilient, and many of us gradually lose the ability to perform at the level we used to. This can lead to a decline in cognitive function, including the risk for developing degenerative diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer's disease. One way to mitigate this decline is to keep your body active. Physical activity has been shown to improve blood flow to the brain, enhancing cognitive function. It also increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain, supporting optimal brain health. Physical activity has also been shown to improve mood and reduce stress, both of which can have a negative impact on cognitive health. All in all, staying physically active is an excellent way to protect your brain health and reduce your risk of developing cognitive decline.
Learn new things
Learning anything new has been shown to increase both blood flow and brain activity in the areas of the brain responsible for memory. If you want to protect your brain health, it’s important to keep learning new things. This doesn’t have to be a big, time-consuming project; you can pick up new skills in your spare time or take on a new hobby. Learning new things can also help you stay socially engaged with the people in your life, which is another risk factor for cognitive decline.
Get enough sleep
In addition to being important for overall health, sleep has also been shown to promote cognitive function. Poor sleep has been linked to cognitive impairment, including memory loss. So, if you want to protect your brain health and stave off cognitive decline, it’s important to get enough sleep. On average, most adults need about eight hours of sleep per night to function at their best. DO make sure to get enough sleep, and DON’T drink caffeine before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake even if you’ve had enough sleep.
Maintain a healthy diet
There is compelling evidence that certain foods can help stave off cognitive decline, whereas others can increase the risk of cognitive impairment. For example, diets high in saturated fats and refined sugar have been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. On the other hand, diets high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber have been linked to a decreased risk of cognitive decline. It’s important to note that these links don’t prove that a high-sugar diet causes Alzheimer's disease; rather, they show that people who eat a lot of sugar are also more likely to develop Alzheimer's. So, it’s important to note that there are also other factors at play. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to maintain a healthy diet with lots of fresh produce and other healthy foods.
Join memory training programs
Practicing a few different memory exercises, such as playing word games, regularly can help prevent cognitive decline, according to research. There are many different types of memory exercises, and you can find a list of the best ones here. If you want to really boost your memory function, you can even join a program like BrainHQ, which uses personalized exercises to improve your memory and other cognitive skills.
The tips above will help you prevent memory loss in your future. It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences memory loss actually has dementia. In fact, most people who experience mild cognitive impairment are able to recover, provided they take steps to protect their brain health. These tips can help you prevent memory loss and protect your brain health as you age.