Strategies for Handling Memory Loss
A missed appointment. A forgotten name. A lost set of keys. What’s happening to your memory, or the memory of a loved one? “We all experience lapses and changes in memory as we get older. And when I say get older, I mean starting in our 30s,” says Elizabeth Edgerly, M.D., chief program officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, Northern California and Northern Nevada ChapterOpens new window. “With each decade, this may get more noticeable. The trick, then, is differentiating normal, age-related memory loss from dementia.”
Helpful Memory Habits
If memory loss seems irritating but minor, start by adopting some practical habits that help improve or jog your memory. For instance:
- Increase physical exercise. Studies show that a part of brain called the hippocampus, where memories form, can actually grow as a result of exercise like walking.
- Pay closer attention. If you struggle with names and faces, make sure to take a good look at the person's face and ask some questions about his or her name.
- Put everything in its place. Are you always looking for your reading glasses? Your wallet? Determine a place where each item is stored and put things away immediately after using them.
- Check your medications. Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs may interfere with memory, especially in older adults. If you’re concerned, talk with your pharmacist or physician.
Unfortunately, some adults have more serious memory loss that begins to interfere with daily life. This especially takes the form of short-term memory loss, for instance, forgetting entire conversations or whether you have eaten. Edgerly recommends visiting your doctor immediately if memory loss becomes a concern.
CPMC’s Brain Health Center Can Help
The Brain Health Center at California Pacific Medical Center partners with the Alzheimer’s Association and holds classes on maintaining brain function and memory as you age. Additionally, the Center offers a range of services for anyone concerned about memory issues, including diagnosis, treatment, research, technology and psychosocial support.
415-600-555 for more information.