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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Fish oil contains essential omega-3 fatty acids that your body cannot make. These fatty acids are an important components of brain tissue.
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.
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!
1. Cheng, Wu, et al. "The effects of multi-domain versus single-domain cognitive training in non-demented older people: a randomized controlled trial." BMC Medicine, 27 March 2012, 10:30. DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-10-30.
Conclusion: "Cognitive training can improve memory, visual reasoning, visuospatial construction, attention, and neuropsychological status in community-living older people and can help maintain their functioning over time."
2. American Academy of Neurology. "Brain Exercises May Delay Memory Decline in Dementia." ScienceDaily, 4 Aug. 2009.
3. Granholm, Bimonte-Nelson, et al. "Effects of a Saturated Fat and High Cholesterol Diet on Memory and Hippocampal Morphology in the Middle-Aged Rat." Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 14:2 (June 2008), pp. 133-145.
4. Okello, et al. "In Vitro Anti-Beta-Secretase and Dual Anti-Cholinesterase Activities of Camellia Sinensis L. (Green Tea) Relevant to Treatment of Dementia." Phytotherapy Research, 18 624-627 (2004)
5. Krikorian, et al. "Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2010, 58 (7), pp. 3996-4000. DOI: 10.1021/jf9029332
6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Magnesium May Reverse Middle-Age Memory Loss." ScienceDaily, 27 Dec. 2004.
7. University of Nottingham. "Exercise Can Slow Onset of Alzheimer's Memory Loss: Scientists Identify Link." ScienceDaily, 24 Jan. 2013
8. Erickson, Prakash, et al. "Aerobic Fitness Is Associated with Hippocampal Volume in Elderly Humans." Hippocampus, 19: 1030-1039. October 2009. DOI: 10.1002/hipo.20547
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.