When 1,000 Americans were surveyed on their top concerns about aging, more than twice as many said their greatest fear was losing mental capacity (62 percent) as opposed to losing physical ability (29 percent).
Indeed, many of us will face some memory loss. We might forget an appointment, where we put something, the name of an acquaintance, or even what we’re about to say. These are normal incidents that can be frustrating, but don’t disrupt daily life. We can compensate by writing notes, making lists and checking our calendar more often.
Mild cognitive impairment and dementia
Some older adults experience mild cognitive impairment—the middle ground of memory loss. This involves frequently misplacing items, forgetting information and having trouble following conversations.
Advanced cognitive impairment is dementia, a disabling disease of the brain, with Alzheimer’s disease as the most common form. The Mayo Clinic lists symptoms of dementia as “impairment in memory, reasoning, judgment, language and other thinking skills.” It threatens our ability to perform routine tasks and interact with people.
Though we can’t guarantee we will be spared dementia, we can take actions every day to reduce our risk and help maintain memory function. Here are some tips from Caring.com.
- Exercise regularly
- Seek treatment for depression
- Change routines or learn something new
- Focus (don’t multitask) when learning
- Nap more often
- Manage blood sugar levels
- Eat smaller portions
- Eat green vegetables
- Drink green or black tea or coffee
- Get help for sleep apnea
Music may also play a therapeutic role. A study at George Mason University demonstrated that actively singing produced improvements in memory, as well as comprehension and mood. And some studies have concluded that listening to instrumental music can improve knowledge retention and memory when learning new facts and concepts.
You could also try the higher-tech route. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society showed that people over 65 who used a computerized cognitive training program for an hour daily, over eight weeks, improved memory and attention more than a control group did. To learn more you can search online for “brain fitness software” or “brain fitness websites.”
Connections Memory Support Services
At Country Meadows Retirement Communities, we realize that memory loss can be unsettling and even debilitating for seniors. That’s why we developed our Connections Memory Support Services, which has provided dementia care for 10,000-plus people for more than 20 years. Read about our two distinct levels of service—the Connections Club and Connections Neighborhood.
If you feel your loved one might benefit from our Connections program, we recommend you view this video and read additional information. You might determine that his or her needs could be met by memory care support delivered within our caring senior community, rather than nursing home care at a long-term care facility.
We would like to offer you our guide, “Understanding Dementia’s Effects on Your Loved One and Family,” which helps caregivers deal with dementia and memory loss. You can order the guide here now.
We also invite you to contact us to learn more about our retirement apartments (either independent living or assisted living/personal care homes) and tour any of our Pennsylvania or Maryland retirement communities. We would be happy to introduce you to our comfortable senior housing in Lancaster, York, Reading, Hershey, Mechanicsburg, the Lehigh Valley and Pittsburgh, PA, and Frederick, MD.