Avoiding Memory Loss: What Can Older Adults Do to Prevent?
One of the most common fears of an aging adult is developing Alzheimer’s. For a long time, doctors misbelieved that they could do anything to help others with preventing the disease and avoiding memory loss. It was thought that severe memory loss occurred in the brain due to aging.
After years of research, while there is still no cure, there are preventive measures that can be taken to reduce your odds of inheriting the disease. Aging may be a risk factor, but it is not the only factor. With the right lifestyle changes, you and your loved ones can protect your brain and memory.
Keep in mind that some memory loss is normal and part of the aging process. Normal memory loss consists of little moments of forgetfulness and memory lapses. For instance, your senior loved one may forget where they placed their keys or have trouble finding words.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are much more severe. With these diseases, there will be cognitive decline and physical impairments that progress through many stages.
To slow down the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and decrease the odds of being diagnosed, we’ve compiled a list of lifestyle habits for avoiding memory loss below.
What causes memory loss?
Many things affect the brain and memory. Age, genetics, environment, family history, daily habits, illnesses, and diseases, to name a few. Though, the most discussed causes of memory loss in seniors are Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Researchers have found that adults who develop Alzheimer’s have a build-up of the proteins beta-amyloid and tau in their brains. The build-up of these proteins causes plaques and tangles that damage and kill neurons (brain cells).
When nerve cells die or stop functioning, it leads to a lack of communication and information processing in the brain. Without the communication between neurons, regions in the brain shrink, and seniors will suffer from mental and physical impairments.
While Alzheimer’s is one common form of dementia, there are different types of the disease. Some types are less severe, can be treated, and are even temporary.
Some other causes of dementia are:
- Brain tumors
- Excessive intake of alcohol
- Medication side effects
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Thyroid issues
- Vitamin deficiencies
The onset of Alzheimer’s
Most adults with Alzheimer’s, have late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which becomes apparent in their 60’s. With that said, in the first stage of Alzheimer’s, there will be no symptoms, meaning complex brain changes are occurring years before a diagnosis is made. This means the actual onset of Alzheimer’s may begin as early as the 30s and 40s.
While very rare, there is also early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which begins much sooner than the typical late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Adults with early-onset Alzheimer’s will show symptoms of the disease as early as 30 years old. Meaning their brains have been enduring damage since their 20’s.
While prevention is easier than treatment if your senior loved one is already showing signs of Alzheimer’s, there are still ways to slow down its progression.
Making healthy choices and lifestyle changes at any age is beneficial for avoiding memory loss, and good for the body and brain.
Slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Healthy choices can contribute to better brain health and overall functioning.
By slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia, your senior loved one can live a happier and more fulfilled life. Though the disease will still progress, slowing it down can help your senior maintain their memories longer, hold on to their independence, and prolong their life.
Maintaining a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, is essential to brain health. How you eat doesn’t only affect your body, but your mind as well. This is why those who follow a western diet (processed foods, fats, sugar, sodium, red meat) are more susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses.
The best diet consists of vegetables, fruits, grains, and lean meats. A diet with minimal sugar, salt, and processed foods will reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and other illnesses that can cause more damage to the heart and brain.
Staying physically active increases blood flow in the brain, which improves brain health and cognitive functioning. Exercise wards off many of the illnesses that are known risk factors for memory disorders, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night is one of the best ways to reduce the chances of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. During sleep, the brain repairs and heals itself.
It is well known that a lack of sleep and sleep problems lead to cognitive decline and dementia.
Ensuring that your senior loved one can manage their stress will make them feel better and help their brain. Stress deteriorates the brain, even in those who don’t have Alzheimer’s disease. While it does shrink areas in the brain critical to memory, it also reduces nerve cell growth.
Your senior may enjoy meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, journaling, music, or other relaxing hobbies and stress reduction techniques.
Comprehensive care at The Kensington Redondo Beach
Our promise is to love and care for your senior as we would our own family. We offer two cozy memory neighborhoods — Connections and Haven, with a full spectrum of clinical support, life enrichment activities, and exceptional dining services.
We know that transitioning your senior loved one may be challenging, which is why we are here to offer support and peace of mind.
Contact our compassionate team today if you are ready to learn more about senior living options and how we ensure the health and happiness of our residents.