As we get older, sometimes our short term memory doesn’t cooperate favorably.
Memories are a huge part of our lives, but what happens when they start to fade?
It can be challenging and frustrating to deal with memory loss, for those experiencing this or for loved ones.
Memory loss is common and can affect anyone, young or old.
Forgetting a new person’s name or where you placed your keys, isn’t usually a cause for concern.
If memory lapses start to interfere with daily life, you may want to seek medical attention.
“When a person experiences short-term memory loss, he or she can remember incidents from 20 years ago but is fuzzy on the details of things that happened 20 minutes prior” according to Live Science.
Nutrient Rich Foods!
As highlighted in the book “Food as Medicine” eating nutrient rich foods play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy brain.
Consuming fruits, veggies, and whole grains improves memory and contributes to overall brain health.
Omega 3s found in nuts, chia seeds, spinach and fish, or through supplementation, are beneficial for the brain and may improve memory.
On the other hand, a diet high in refined sugar and carbohydrates has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s or “type 3 diabetes” as noted by Double Board-Certified Psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Amen.
He also says that every 58 seconds someone is diagnosed with a new case of Alzheimer’s, and if you live to age 85, there’s a 50% risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or some form of Dementia.
Type 3 diabetes is a term to describe the link between Alzheimers and insulin resistance in the brain. Insulin resistance can lead to oxidative stress, and chronic inflammation which can contribute to cognitive decline.
Cognitive decline refers to a gradual decrease in the ability to learn, remember and think and can be caused by decreased blood blow to the brain. Dr. Amen suggests getting a SPECT scan in order to assess brain health and to measure blood flow.
Exercising, consuming anti-inflammatory foods, and spices such as ginger, cayenne pepper, rosemary, and supplements like ginkgo, can help improve cognitive function and increase blood flow to the brain.
Chronic stress can damage the brain and contribute to cognitive decline.
To promote brain health and lower stress levels, it may help to practice mindfulness or meditation or other stress reducing techniques.
Managing Cognitive Changes!
Dementia is a general term used to describe a decline in cognitive abilities, such as memory, thinking, and reasoning, that is severe enough to interfere with daily functioning and independence.
It’s caused by various underlying conditions or diseases affecting the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common cause of dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of dementia characterized by the progressive loss of cognitive function, memory impairment, changes in behavior, and difficulties with language and problem-solving.
MCI, on the other hand, represents a milder cognitive decline than dementia.
It involves noticeable changes in cognitive abilities that may not significantly interfere with daily activities or independence.
While individuals with MCI have a higher risk of developing dementia, not all individuals with MCI will progress to dementia.
MCI can be considered an intermediate stage between the normal cognitive changes of aging and more severe cognitive impairment seen in dementia.
Proper diagnosis and ongoing monitoring are essential in understanding and managing cognitive changes associated with MCI and dementia.
There are other ways to potentially prevent memory loss and maintain brain healthy such as avoiding toxins and hormone disrupters, losing weight, lifelong learning, and getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D.
It’s also important to avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
In addition, there are daily strategies that can help you adapt to manage memory loss:
🧠 Get plenty of sleep and keep stress to a minimum.
🤔 Create morning and evening routines.
🧠 Get daily exercise.
🤔 Write things down or record your thoughts on your cellphone or watch.
🧠 Put all appointments on a calendar and keep it nearby.
🤔 Use sticky notes.
🧠 Break tasks into smaller steps, and focus on one thing at a time.
🤔 Meet new people and socialize because socializing has a beneficial impact on memory and cognitive function.
🧠 Keep a daily to-do list. it’s easier to see what you really need to do when it’s on paper and it gets it out of your head onto paper.
🤔 Write down important events, birthdays, anniversaries, and contacts, so you have them at your fingertips when needed.
🧠 Journal your thoughts.
🤔 Use a weekly pill organizer, or automatic pill dispenser with an alarm that reminds you to take your meds.
🧠 Set alerts to remind you to take meds or events you need to remember.
🤔 Return items to the same place you found them.
🧠 Keep your keys, wallet and phone in a bowl or decorative box where you can always locate them.
🤔 Use an online app to keep track of passwords and other important information, or write down everything and keep it in one designated place.
🧠 If someone is explaining something to you, ask them to speak slowly, and then repeat back to them what you just heard.
🤔 Go to uncrowded stores (maybe early in the morning or around dinner time) to get through the lines quickly with less confusion.
🧠 Purchase useful items like a large clock, photo phone, large puzzles, nostalgia cards, a weighted blanket or a bed alarm sensor.
If you or someone you know already suffers from Alzheimer’s, they may forget what time it is or where they are.
They may repeat themselves or struggle to find the right words.
it’s important when interacting to approach them with empathy and patience, and avoid expressing annoyance or frustration.
If they repeat themselves or ask the same questions, it’s best to be patient and respond kindly.
This helps to maintain their well-being and dignity, as well as reduce anxiety and stress.
A person with Alzheimer’s has a different reality than you do.
They may believe that a loved one who passed is still present in their life.
They also may think they’re young again and remember a happy event from their past, as if it’s happening now, like a first date, a wedding, or a vacation and even though it’s not happening now, it may create a sense of comfort, fulfillment and happiness for them.
It’s helpful when you live with someone having memory loss, it’s best to establish a scheduled routine for meals, medications, and activities.
Provide items that help them find what they need and remember where things belong.
It’s also important to create an uncluttered environment because clutter creates confusion.
My aunt used to keep a list near her phone of everyone in the family, which included their birthdays and who they were in relation to her.
When it comes to planning gatherings, its crucial to ensure comfort.
A person with Alzheimers may get agitated and experience confusion in unfamiliar situations.
“Late afternoon and early evening can be difficult for some people with Alzheimer’s disease. They may experience sundowning—restlessness, agitation, irritability, or confusion that can begin or worsen as daylight begins to fade—often just when tired caregivers need a break” according to the National Institute on Aging.
In this case, it might be best to schedule a morning or early afternoon gathering.
It’s important to know whether your loved one prefers one-on-one interactions or does better in large groups, or maybe they just prefer to be around others and not speak much.
Before a family get together, consider assigning your loved one to handle an easy task, so they can help out and feel like part of the family.
Maybe they can pour water into glasses or set the table.
To spark conversations, maybe display an old photograph or photo album to bring back memories.
Music and Laughter!
Music can also bring back memories and evoke emotions.
It’s an excellent way to connect even after they have difficulties communicating verbally.
Playing familiar songs from their young adulthood, ages 18 to 25, have potential for positive interactions and engagement.
The Alzheimer’s association says that “Even in the late-stages of Alzheimer’s, a person may be able to tap a beat or sing lyrics to a song from childhood. Music provides a way to connect, even after verbal communication has become difficult“.
Dance/movement therapy is another effective way to stimulate social interaction, reduce anxiety, enhance mood, and increase self-awareness.
This can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s.
Laughter improves mood and is another great way to reduce anxiety and stress.
“In terms of dementia-specific benefits, the greatest advantage of humor is that it provides sufferers with much-needed mental stimulation. Humor challenges our loved ones to engage their minds as fully as possible. It’s also an effective tool for keeping social links active and reducing the sensations of paranoia and agitation that many people with dementia struggle with” according to alz.org.
It can also improve social interactions and create positive connections!
It can be challenging to come to terms that your loved one’s brain may no longer function like it used to and accepting this reality is crucial and easier said than done.
You may long for the way things used to be, but it’s important to develop coping mechanisms to manage the situation.
Seeking therapy can be an excellent option to help you navigate the challenges of caring for your loved one.
If you’re caring for a loved one, it’s best to not neglect your own self care.
Remember you can’t pour from an empty cup!
Currently, there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s.
There are lifestyle changes and treatments that help manage symptoms and slow the progression.
Alzheimer’s prevention is crucial, because this disease robs individuals of their abilities and memories, and takes a toll on their loved ones.
This improves your overall quality of life and minimizes the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
If you’re experiencing memory loss, contact your health care provider.
For more information about memory loss and Alzheimers, visit alz.org.
They have resources to help you or someone you love.
TOPIC: Memory Loss!
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