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Some people seem surprised, astounded even, by the thought of age-related memory loss. But, if you think about it, it makes sense. For one thing, as we grow older, we have more and more memories to keep track of! An 80 year old will, obviously, have more trouble remembering his 5th grade teacher’s name than a 40 year old and the 40 year old will have more trouble remembering their 5th grade teacher’s name than a 20 year old.
I once heard a teenager bragging that she could remember half the students in her 5th grade class. I imagine so! Fewer years mean fewer places for the memories to get lost or sidetracked. Ask a 40 year old to name half the students in her 5th grade class and watch her face twist up in agony.
A relentless and unkind truth of life is that every inch of our bodies is affected by the aging process. Things just, shall we say, slow down. I think of it as God’s way of protecting us. If we moved around NOW as fast and often as we did when we were 15, we’d surely break something. Maybe even 2 somethings.
Our minds are affected by age as well. They slow down a bit – but that doesn’t mean they have to stop. Far from it! If we make the right changes in our lifestyle (eat healthy food, avoid unhealthy food, get a little exercise each day, eliminate stress, continually challenge our minds…), there’s no reason you can’t stay as sharp as a tack, well into your golden years.
My advice for individuals who are concerned about age-related memory loss? Here it is in a nutshell:
- Don’t become preoccupied with negative thoughts and don’t focus on fear. Worrying and fretting about things only compound the problem. Here’s an illustration. See the butterfly above? Stare at her for 40 seconds. I’ll wait right here. For the first few seconds, you probably noticed how beautiful the butterfly was. Then you probably made a note of how vivid the gorgeous flowers are. By the end of the 4o seconds, few things existed in the room other than the butterfly and her flower. You focused so intently on them that everything else disappeared. When we focus on positive things, this really isn’t that big of a deal but when we focus on negative things, it’s a huge deal.
- Stay mentally active. Keep your brain active and challenged. While reading is wonderful, the benefits wane if you read the same type of material over and over. Branch out into new areas and keep challenging yourself. Learn new things – that’s where the magic lives.
- What’s good for your heart is good for your brain. Eating right doesn’t just promote good heart health, it promotes good brain health. Eat fruits and vegetables daily… plural. Have fish several times a week and consider taking a fish oil supplement. Also, don’t forget to get some sort of activity for at least 30 minutes each day (at least 5 times a week). Cleaning your house, garage, or vehicle counts as activity as long as you keep at it for 30 minutes.
Here’s a link to an article I think you’ll enjoy. It’s geared toward “seniors” but people of all ages will get a lot out of it. It’s all about entertaining activities that aid in memory retention.