Carol Cummings, RN, BSN, Expert on Aging Well

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01 June 2016

alzheimers and brain awareness month

A couple of months ago I wrote about Brookdale’s BrainFit program. We started in March with the Know Your Brain class. Ongoing mental fitness workouts called Flex Your Brain, and novel and complex projects-Grow Your Brain-provide ongoing opportunities for residents to keep the mind sharp.

I am proud to say that there is another component to the BrainFit program coming in July called Boost Your Brain. This component of the program addresses memory. The three sessions, delivered via recorded video, feature Occupational Therapist and memory expert Jana McMahon teaching about how memory works, strategies to help memory, and ways to remain independent as memory changes occur.

All of us experience some cognitive changes as we age-and may wonder if they are normal. For a breakdown of what is normal vs. cause for concern see Brookdale’s Brain Health infographic. In normal aging and even for younger people there are some reasons why we forget. Here is a list of the most common:

  • Distraction. Have you ever forgotten where you left your keys? The main reason this happens is that you are thinking about something else and not focusing on where you put them. This is probably the most common reason for forgetting-as we get older we can be a little more prone to distraction.
  • Fatigue. This can be from mental or physical exertion or a lack of sleep. Any of those will lead to memory issues.
  • Lack of interest. If you are not interested in something, chances are you won’t take the time to get in into your long term memory.
  • Too much to remember. Being on overload can lead to mental fatigue and a decreased ability to retain information. This is especially true under stress.
  • Anxiety and depression. These conditions can impact memory and should be addressed with your health care provider.
  • Some medical conditions can cause poor mental functioning-if you notice a change, talk to your health care provider.

In order for our brains to function at their best we need to make healthy lifestyle choices such as:

  • Getting enough exercise-around 30 minutes per day of moderate aerobic activity
  • Eating well-plenty of fruits and vegetables, Omega 3 fats through cold water fish and avoid processed foods
  • Getting enough sleep-most of us need 7-8 hours per night
  • Staying socially connected
  • Maintaining a sense of meaning and purpose
  • Avoiding smoking and other unhealthy habits

While there is no way to prevent dementia, we can reduce risk through these healthy choices.

Next week we will discuss some tips for Boosting memory. Don’t forget to come back!


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