Archive | May, 2016

Age-Related Changes in Memory

20 May


Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they don’t remember information as well as they did, or they lose things like their glasses. These usually are signs of mild forgetfulness,  not serious memory problems.

Some older adults also find that they don’t do as well as younger people on complex memory or learning tests. Scientists have found, though, that given enough time, healthy older people can do as well as younger people do on these tests. In fact, as they age, healthy adults usually improve in areas of mental ability such as vocabulary.

Article Published In:  National Institute on Aging

Halting the Progression of Cognitive Impairment

12 May


Dementia defined: a disorder characterized by a decline in cognition (the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses), involving one or more cognitive domains; learning and memory, language, executive function, complex attention, perceptual-motor, or social cognition.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in the elderly. It accounts for 60-80 percent of cases that are diagnosed. A recent study estimated that in 2012 roughly 5.2 million individuals over the age of 65 had the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia. Unfortunately, this number is expected to reach 6.7 million by 2025.

A frequent conversation I have with children of parents affected by Alzheimer’s is how do I prevent this from happening to me? Personally my wife and I have asked this same question. My grandfather and grandmother both have Alzheimer’s type dementia. My wife’s father was recently diagnosed with dementia in his early 60’s.

More research is being done in both the treatment and prevention of this disease. Let’s look at a few tips to keep your mind healthy. The Mayo Clinic has recommended 7 tips to do so.

• Stay Mentally Active. Physicians always recommend that you engage in physical exercise routinely. Mental exercise is no different. There’s an old adage: “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” This is particularly true when thinking about brain function. Mentally stimulating exercises help keep your brain in shape. Challenge yourself to learn new things. Take advantage of a daily crossword or Sudoku puzzle. Try and learn a new instrument. Read more.

• Socialize Regularly. Social engagements usually allow for stimulating conversation. It’s a good way to keep depression and stress from overwhelming your thoughts. Both stress and depression can contribute to memory loss. If you live alone this is particularly true. Be proactive and even help plan social gatherings with loved ones and friends.

• Get Organized. Bottom line, we live in a very fast-paced, multi-task culture. This can be burdensome for most and cause you to feel distracted or in disarray. Try and plan a reasonable list for the day. Don’t try to do so many things at once.

• Sleep Well. This is such an important step. Remember sleep plays an important role in restoration; not just in a physical sense, but also with consolidating your memories. Most adults require 7-8 hours of sleep per night. I have provided a link to The National Sleep Foundation’s website for a discussion on healthy sleep hygiene:

• Eat a Healthy Diet. A recent study looked at preventing the onset of dementia and memory impairment as we age. A person who consumed healthy fats, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, was able to fatten their brain matter allowing for more dense brain tissue. As we age, our brains tends to lose mass, which is a known feature seen on MRIs linked to dementia and memory impairment. Consume a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Try to eat more lean proteins such as fish, lean meat and skinless poultry. Consume lots of water and minimize your alcohol intake.

• Make Physical Activity Apart of Your Daily Routine. The American College of Cardiology recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise daily for at least 150 minutes per week. This increases blood flow to the brain maintaining mental fitness. You will stay mentally sharp.

• Manage Chronic Conditions. I can’t stress the importance of seeing your doctor regularly. The big three, as I like to call them, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol affect our brain function over time. Augmenting these disease states with appropriate blood work and warranted intervention helps to prevent damage to brain vessels in the brain. Be proactive and not reactive with your health. Work with your doctor and wellness provider to develop a healthier active life.

Dr. Bob, HAWA Medical Director


5 May


Your mind works a lot like a computer. Your brain puts information it judges to be important into “files.” When you remember something, you pull up a file. Memory doesn’t always work perfectly. As people grow older, it may take longer to retrieve those files. Some adults joke about having a “senior moment.”

It’s normal to forget things once in awhile. We’ve all forgotten a name, where we put our keys, or if we locked the front door. Seniors who forget things more often than others their age may have mild cognitive impairment. Forgetting how to use the telephone or find your way home may be signs of a more serious problem.

These include Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, stroke, depression, head injuries, thyroid problems, or reactions to certain medicines. During the early stages of dementia, family members, friends and colleagues may begin to notice that something seems wrong. They may express concern when you forget to attend a meeting or repeat the same questions often. Such situations may trigger feelings of defensiveness and anxiety.

If you’re worried about your forgetfulness, see your doctor.

Article published by: MedlinePlus