Misplaced car keys, forgotten movie endings, temporary inability to recall a co-worker's name, as we get older, we all experience these brief lapses in memory. Age-related memory loss has been thought to set in at around 60 years of age, but a new study suggests that some memory loss may actually occur much earlier.
The study which was recently published online in the journal BMJ, examined British civil service workers (5,200 men and 2,200 women) participating in an ongoing health study known as Whitehall II. The subjects, who were all between 45 and 70 years of age, took a number of tests designed to assess brain function. The results showed that some subjects as early as age 45 experienced decline in reasoning, memory and comprehension.
Over the course of a ten-year period, men from 45 to 50 years of age experienced a decline in mental reasoning of 3.6% in comparison to men from 65 to 70 who experienced a 9.6% decline. The female subjects showed similar results. Being one of the first studies to examine brain function in this age group, the results are important for future research and for possible treatment of age-related dementia.
Before one leaps to "Alzheimer's" as a possibility however, it is important to note that the chances of it causing memory loss in this age group are very low - less than 1 in 100. Short-term memory loss in the 40s and 50s is most commonly caused by stress, lack of sleep, anxiety, depression and medical issues.
CONSEQUENTLY, THERE ARE LIFESTYLE CHANGES THAT PEOPLE CAN MAKE TO BOOST MEMORY:
Reduce Stress: Lower your levels of outside stimuli, like radio in the car or background noise from an unwatched television. Also, try yoga, meditation or tai chi to calm the mind. Organization also helps reduce stress. De-clutter your home and donate items not used for a year to your local Goodwill.Get Regular Exercise: There are two ways that exercise enhances memory.
- It boosts circulation which means better blood flow to the brain.
- It increases growth factors, which are proteins that provide nourishment to brain cells
Enhance the Diet: Research shows that regular consumption of fish lowers risks for developing Alzheimer's disease. Also, incorporate antioxidant-rich foods like spinach, oranges, beets, avocados, and berries. Try dietary supplements like fish oil (in place of fish), flaxseed oil, vitamin B12 and folate to boost brain power.
Get Plenty of Sleep: Try a warm bath before bed to encourage relaxation, maintain a regular schedule for sleeping and waking, and try ear plugs to drown out a snoring partner.
Incorporate a "Use It or Lose It" Philosophy: Studies show that those who regularly engage in activities requiring cognition lower chances for developing Alzheimer's disease. Play chess, read or do puzzles or other brain teasers. Also, try this: Before drifting off at night, go backward through your day and try to remember each thing you did before laying down for bed.
Don't immediately fear "Alzheimer's" the next time you forget why you walked into a room. Determine if you are experiencing any of the common causes for memory loss, and make the lifestyle changes recommended above. Also, see your health care provider to discuss any possible medical causes.