Have you seen that commercial where a middle-aged woman goes into her living room and says “Where did I put my glasses?” There is no one in the room except for the dog on the couch. The dog looks at her and says to himself (if dogs could talk) — “They’re on your head, lady!”
I do that all of the time, I can’t remember where I put my glasses, my keys, my pocketbook, my charge card. Heck, some days, I have a hard time remembering where I am going.
Some people say that this is normal, age-related forgetfulness. But there is more to memory loss than to blame it on “that time of life.” The fact is that the brain produces new cells at any age. Therefore, your lifestyle, health habits, and daily activities have a huge impact on the health of your brain.
By the way, new studies have shown that many young adults suffer from memory loss too. Stress, depression, life style – such as diet and inactivity — alcohol, medication, dehydration and other ailments can play a role in cognitive dysfunction.
Some functions that are not usually affected by memory change may include common sense thinking, the ability to form reasonable judgments, the wisdom and knowledge you’ve acquired from life experiences, and being able to do things that you’ve always done without much thought.
Forgetfulness such as occasionally forgetting an appointment, losing your keys, forgetting details of a conversation, forgetting someone’s name or retrieving the wrong name, walking into a room and forgetting why you entered, being easily distracted, and not being able to retrieve information as quickly as we used to as it is “right on the tip of your tongue” may be normal signs of stress and aging.
Some signs of memory loss that may be warning signs of something more serious may include difficulty performing daily tasks such as paying bills, dressing appropriately, and forgetting how to do simple responsibilities that have been part of your daily routine.
Other clues of possible concerns is when someone repeats stories or phrases in the same conversation, getting lost or disorientated, showing poor judgment and displaying inappropriate behavior. The overall concern with this type of memory loss usually equates to not being able to function independently.
Disturbances in work, social interactions, family communications, and hobbies may be a warning sign of dementia, Alzheimer’s’s disease or other serious illnesses. It is always good to consult your physician when concerned with this type of memory loss as there are many possible diagnoses and treatment therapies. It is all not lost even though you think your mind is. There are many resources to improve quality of life.
So did the lady ever find her glasses? I don’t know, but I know I will. The fact is that we can age gracefully and not lose our minds.
Memory improvement tips include a healthy life style, exercise, being active mentally and physically, and eating a good balanced diet. There are some foods that are especially good for memory that include foods rich with Omega 3 oils (tuna, salmon, and nuts) and antioxidant laden food and drink (such as green tea, grapes, berries and dark green vegetables).
Get plenty of sleep, don’t smoke, manage stress, keep spiritually in-tune and become socially active. Physical exercise is important but there are many ways to exercise your brain too. These include playing strategic or academic games such as scrabble, chess or bridge.
Learning new things, stretching your mind such as learning a new language, mastering a new skill, learning to play a musical instrument, or just whipping up a new recipe can strengthen that mind muscle. It is also important to read and study – read the newspaper or a non-fiction book, look up things that you may be curious about and challenge yourself to learn more.
Take on new projects, especially projects that involve problem solving, planning, and design. Be creative … write a book, paint a picture. Play with your grandkids. Be a volunteer. Make a pact to change – change your body and change your mind.
Dr. Virginia Schafer has been an active part of Fairfield County since she moved to Winnsboro a few short years ago. Originally she ventured into town to write a book — The Legendary Locals of Fairfield County and fell in love with the county, the people and a special homestead. Even though her background is in health care, her love for writing brought her to the Fairfield County Arts Council where she has orchestrated the Rock Around the Clock student’s writing contest for three years running, and she serves to promote literacy and creative writing to adults and children in the county.