Where did I park? Did I unplug the iron? What time is my weekly chiropractor appointment? Who was the salesperson I talked to at the furniture store yesterday?
Life is so hectic that it’s pretty common for most people to forget a thing or two every now and then. Many of these “senior moments” are harmless and short term. Once we retrace our steps or take a few minutes to think, we recall the details that temporarily escaped us.
But over time, everyone is likely to experience an increasing number of memory issues. For some, these lapses happen over a long period of time and aren’t noticeable until well after retirement age. For others, memory loss can come on much more quickly and can include more serious consequences.
As your loved ones age, memory loss will start to be more noticeable. Although there are no guarantees when it comes to preventing memory loss or even dementia, certain activities might help prevent or delay memory issues.
Stay mentally active
Just like our bodies, our brains need exercise in order to stay healthy. Participating in mentally stimulating activities keep our minds sharp and can limit memory loss. Some ideas to keep your loved one’s mind engaged include doing crossword puzzles, playing cards, reading, learning to play a musical instrument, scrapbooking or volunteering.
Depression, loneliness and stress can contribute to memory loss. As a caregiver, look for opportunities to regularly get your loved one engaged with others. That may mean taking them to a senior or community center for arts and crafts or card tournaments. They could also spend time with family, friends or neighbors. Encourage others to ask your loved one about themselves, including memories from their youth. Thinking about the past often will help keep those memories fresh for years to come.
Get enough sleep
Sleep plays an important role in preserving memories, so you can recall them later. Life is busy, but sleep should be a priority. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a day. If that seems impossible for your loved one, have them take a short nap after lunch.
Eat a healthy diet
Much of the food adults eat makes the body and mind fatigued. But a healthy diet is as good for the brain as it is for the heart. When it comes to eating healthy, see that your loved one eats fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They should choose low-fat protein sources, such as fish, lean meat and skinless poultry.
Learn to get organized
Write it down! Sometimes, we over-estimate our ability to remember things. Your loved one (and you) have a much better chance of remembering things if they write them down. Keep a notepad by the phone, the bed and your loved one’s favorite chair so they can jot down tasks, appointments and other events or information they need to remember later.
Manage health conditions
Memory loss can be caused by other health issues. So, make sure your loved one follows their doctor’s treatment recommendations for chronic conditions, such as depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and kidney or thyroid problems. Have their doctor review their medications regularly to ensure that memory loss isn’t becoming a side effect.