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Protect Memory as You Age

by Paul Ebeling

#brain #aging #memory #food #Alzheimers #dementia


“People who spend time cognitively stable are often the ones who stick to healthy lifestyles and eat real food” — Paul Ebeling

As people older, they worry that forgetfulness may signal the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. But, the experts say that memory problems may be due to other causes such as aging, medical conditions, emotional issues, even food and medications.

According to the National Institute on Aging, forgetfulness is a normal part of aging. The brain undergoes many changes that can make it harder to learn a new skill or easier to forget where we placed keys or glasses.

Certain medical conditions, such as kidney or liver disorders, can also trigger memory loss.

Head injuries or concussions, as well as imbibing too much alcohol, can cause forgetfulness.

Emotional problems such as depression, stress and anxiety can leave people feeling confused and disoriented so they may appear to be forgetful.

Lapses of memory caused by physical or emotional factors tend to go away with proper treatment.

The differences between normal aging or temporary memory loss compared to Alzheimer’s disease are distinct in their pervasiveness.

For example, older people may make a bad decision once in a while. A person with Alzheimer’s disease has poor judgment most of the time, according to the National Institute on Aging.

Normal forgetfulness means that at times we cannot recall a name or word, but more serious memory loss means trouble carrying on a conversation.

Sometimes forgetfulness is caused by mild cognitive impairment or MCI.

Approximately 15% to 20% of people over 65 anni have MCI. People with this condition, especially MCI involving memory problems, are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias than people who do not have MCI, according to Harvard Health. But, MCI does not always lead to dementia, as many folks fear and believe. In fact, MCI is not always permanent.

MCI is not dementia, but it is not normal thinking either. The most common causes stem from actual disease or treatments for disease, included the following:

*Degenerative brain disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

*Stroke or other vascular disease.

*Traumatic brain injury.

*A medication side effect.

*An underlying health problem such as sleep deprivation, depression, or anxiety

The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) recently published new guidelines for the treatment of MCI and notes that about 15% of the time MCI cases progress into full blown dementia. When the cause is a neurodegenerative disease, the numbers of those who progress into dementia will be higher. What is unclear is how long, if ever, this progression takes.

MCI can often be reversed if a general health condition such as sleep deprivation is causing the decline. By treating the underlying cause, cognition dramatically improves.

Since there are no pills to slow the worsening of memory problems, treatment can be challenging. However, the AAN has found encouraging evidence linking exercise with better memory in people with MCI. Exercising can offer both mental and social stimulation while improving blood flow to the brain. This increased blood flow may also release molecules that can repair brain cells and make connections between them.

New AAN guidelines recommend exercising at least 2X a wk. Cognitive tasks like operating a computer or playing video games can also sharpen one’s brain’s response time and improve attention span.

In Y 2015, the famous FINGER trial, a randomized controlled study, found less cognitive decline over 2 rs in older adults who maintained a combination of habits, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking part in social events.

People with MCI to should emulate the healthy habits of older adults studied in the FINGER trial along with adding mentally stimulating activities like a taking up new hobby or learning a new language.

There are no guarantees, but the evidence suggests that these steps may delay or even prevent progression to dementia.

Biogen (NASDAQ:BIIB) soared 38.3% for the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 after the Food and Drug Administration said it approved the company’s drug for treating Alzheimer’s disease. Biogen’s drug is the 1st Alzheimer’s disease treatment approved by the FDA in nearly 20 yrs.

Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively

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