Dementia, a Leading Cause of Memory Loss

The term "dementia" refers to loss of brain function due to age or disease. A noticeable symptom of dementia is memory loss.

In the past, there wasn't much hope for someone who was "going senile". However, research now suggests there are steps the affected person can take to fight back. Most of these methods involve diet, exercise, and keeping the brain active.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. The other main diseases that cause dementia are Frontotemporal Dementa, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, and Vascular Dementia.

Many other conditions can cause causes of memory loss. Head injuries, exposure to chemicals, some types of heart surgery, side-effects of certain medication side effect, and chronic alcoholism are some examples.

My great-grandmother passed away from Alzheimer's disease. I remember how stressful it was for her as the sufferer and for my family. My heart goes out to families affected by Alzheimer's or any form of dementia.

Some medical conditions mimic Alzheimer's dementia. For example, Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) causes memory problems, but it is treatable.

Types of Dementia and How It Damages the Brain

Here is an excellent 4:00 minute video from Alzheimer's Research UK that summarizes how dementia damages the brain, leading to progressive loss of memory and eventually death:

Coconut oil ketones may improve memory in Alzheimer's patients. Ketones are a source of energy for brain cells.

Research suggests the Indian spice turmeric may protect the brain against memory loss due to Alzheimer's.

There are actually quite a few things older adults can do to protect their memory. There are no guarantees, but the lifestyle choices below may help.

Ways You Can Fight Age-Related Memory Loss

The stress of dementia

Here are important steps, based on research, for anyone who wants to take action to preserve their memory, reasoning, and thinking ability as they get older:

  • Play challenging games every day. "Use it or lose it," as the saying goes. Chess, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, bridge - all are effective.

  • Play online brain games. Online brain games can keep your mind active too. For example, you can play the free brain games on this site.
  • Stop eating "fast food". Research has found that a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol is directly linked to age-related memory loss. As one study concluded,

    Saturated fat, hydrogenated fat, and cholesterol can profoundly impair memory.

    Over time, fat and cholesterol cause inflammation in the brain which damages brain structure, interferes with thinking ability, and contributes to dementia.

  • audio speaker

    Listen to a Related Story from NPR News:

    How Exercise and Other Activities Beat Back Dementia (4:08)

    "Declines in memory are not necessarily inevitable. There are things we can do to keep dementia at bay..."

    ( Opens in pop-up window )

  • Drink green tea. Substances in green tea slowed enzymes linked to Alzheimer's disease, according to a study at the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

    While not a cure, researchers suggested that daily consumption of green tea could be "another tool in the arsenal" for slowing down Alzheimer's-related memory loss.

  • Quit Smoking. According to research, smokers have a 45% higher chance of Alzheimer's disease.

  • Drink blueberry juice. Blueberries are a source of powerful antioxidants that can help protect the brain.

    One study found that older adults who drank 2 cups per day of a commercially available wild blueberry juice experienced significant improvements in memory and learning.

  • Get Vision Problems Corrected. In seniors, poor vision has been shown to increase their risk of cognitive decline and even dementia.

  • Sleep on Your Side. According to research, side sleeping helps the brain clean itself of toxins associated with Alzheimer's disease and can lower dementia risk.
  • Start a new hobby. Try something outside your comfort zone that requires learning and creativity. Any craft where you design and make things will work. Or, consider learning a new language or how to play a musical instrument.
  • Eat antioxidant foods. Age-related mental slowness is partially due to the destructive effects of oxidants on your brain cells over time. Antioxidant foods (green tea, blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, whole grains, etc.) fight this damage and help your brain cells function efficiently.
  • Join a club. Social interaction helps keep your brain sharp. Become a member of a club that meets often.
  • Take fish oil every day. Carlson's pharmaceutical grade liquid fish oil is the brand my family and I use.

    Fish oil contains essential omega-3 fatty acids that your body cannot make. These fatty acids are an important components of brain tissue.

  • Eat high-magnesium foods. A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that people who don't consume enough magnesium are at greater risk for memory loss as they get older.

    Almost half the population isn't getting enough magnesium each day. To protect your brain, eat foods high in magnesium like spinach, nuts and seeds, and whole-grain products.

  • Exercise every day. Research indicates that aerobic activity can stimulate the growth of neurons (brain cells) in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory. In addition, cardiovascular fitness improves the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain.

There's no guarantee you can prevent dementia. But by consuming a healthy diet, keeping your mind active, and making other healthy choices, there is a chance you can delay it or make the symptoms less severe.

Do you want to keep your smarts as you get older? Take care of your brain!

[+] References for Dementia

Published: 09/04/2009
Last Updated: 06/11/2020

DISCLAIMER: This site provides general information only and is not medical advice. Consult your physician regarding matters related to your health.

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