Do you sometimes forget where you parked your car or misplace your keys? Do you ever have trouble remembering names? This can be alarming, but as we age the following common signs of forgetfulness are not thought to be warning signs of dementia:

  • Failure to recall where you left things used on a daily basis
  • Forgetting names or briefly addressing someone by the wrong name
  • Failure to recall just-read material or details of a conversation
  • Forgetting the reason for walking into a room
  • Losing focus and recall of what you are doing
  • Forgetting an appointment

Occasional memory loss does not usually prevent independence or affect performance. If it begins to disrupt work, social activities and relationships, memory loss may be a cause for concern. But, it can also be a result of depression, vitamin B12 deficiency, dehydration, thyroid problems or side effects from medication it is important to report symptoms to a health care provider.

There are proactive ways to enhance the memory. Simple, healthy changes in lifestyle can have a positive impact on brain health. Take a look at these seven easy tips to avoiding memory loss.

Get plenty of physical exercise. New studies suggest that six to nine miles of walking per week can prevent a reduction in brain matter and memory loss. Research from the American Academy of Neurology showed that the brains of aging adults who walked from six to nine miles per week had more gray matter after a period of nine years than subjects who walked less or not at all. Those subjects who walked the most reduced their risk of developing memory loss by half.

Exercise the brain. To challenge the mind and enhance memory skills, play board games that involve strategy; do word, number or jigsaw puzzles; read; try new recipes; learn a foreign language or take up a musical instrument.

Eat a healthy diet, and stay hydrated. Adequate nutrition can go a long way toward preventing memory loss. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are high in brain-boosting antioxidants. Foods rich in omega-3 fats, like salmon, walnuts and flaxseed are also good for the brain. Avoid high saturated and trans fat content, which can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of stroke.

Make sure to consume six to eight glasses of pure water daily. Aging adults are especially prone to dehydration, which left unchecked can cause confusion, drowsiness, memory loss, and other dementia-like symptoms.

Control alcohol intake. Excessive alcohol can be poisonous to brain cells and cause temporary memory loss. Alcohol abuse can also raise the risk of dementia over time. Health experts suggest a limit of one to two drinks for daily alcohol intake.

Reduce and manage stress. In preventing memory loss, it is essential to keep stress levels in check. Cortisol, a hormone released when under stress, can damage the brain over time and cause memory problems. Stress also causes temporary memory lapses, learning disability and impacts concentration.

Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep affects memory consolidation, which refers to the process of forming and storing new memories. Limited sleep can also inhibit the growth of new neurons in the brain, cause memory loss, disturb concentration and affect the ability to make decisions.

Don't smoke. Smoking can cause constriction in the arteries, preventing the delivery of oxygen to the brain. This can increase memory loss and the risk of stroke.

Always check with your health care provider if you experience memory loss that does not seem normal. In addition to the enhancement of overall health the seven tips above can boost brain health and go a long way toward preventing memory loss.