Mind Over Matter: How to Improve Memory in Old Age
One of the most frustrating changes that many elderly people experience as the years go by is deterioration in their memory. When a person’s memory begins to suffer, it can affect their quality of life and cause them distress. Fortunately, there are many ways that memory can be improved, and here are a few that you may want to recommend to your elderly parent or relative.
Start By Organising the Home
One of the first steps to take is to ensure your parent lives in a home that is well organised. This includes keeping it tidy and ordered, but it could also involve keeping a calendar or diary to record upcoming events. If they are becoming more forgetful, you could recommend that they keep their keys, glasses and other important items in a specific place.
Interaction reduces stress and depression, which can both have a negative effect on memory. By socialising more, your parent can help to keep their brain more active, so suggest that they meet up with friends and family more regularly or join a new club to meet more people. One of the roles of care workers is to provide company and companionship, and this can also help to reduce isolation and help memory.
Boost Brain Activity
We get fit and healthy by staying physically active, and in the same way we need to use our brains to keep them strong and working properly. Reducing memory loss could therefore involve many activities like reading, learning a language, learning a musical instrument, doing puzzles and crosswords, and any other activities that involve thinking.
Stay Physically Active
As well as mental activity, it is important to stay physically active. Physical activity is more associated with keeping your body in order, but it can help the mind too by increasing blood flow to the brain. Your parent may want to do some gentle exercise on a regular basis. This could involve walking or swimming, but just make sure they do not do anything too strenuous to start with.
Another benefit of exercise is that it can help to reduce stress, which can have a negative effect on memory. A relaxing activity like yoga can be especially effective at lowering stress.
Eat the Right Food
Diet also plays a role in maintaining a good memory. Encourage your parent to eat healthy food rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, fish and low-fat meat. The Mediterranean diet is considered especially healthy for the brain. If your care worker helps to prepare meals, this could be something you want to discuss with them.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Tiredness can affect memory. Sleep is a time when memories are consolidated after the day, so make sure your parent is getting enough. If your parent is not getting enough sleep, find out why. There may be an underlying reason, and a trip to the doctor could be in order.
When to Seek Help
If memory loss is seriously affecting the ability of your elderly parent to function properly, you may want to take a visit to the doctor. Their doctor may conduct a physical and mental exam, and they can look out for signs of any more serious conditions.
Some problems can worsen memory loss, such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Chronic conditions like depression and thyroid conditions can also affect memory, and your doctor can help to control these. It may be the case that a medication is affecting their memory, so a doctor may need to review these.
However, in most cases faltering memory is just a sign of the passing of the years. Use these ideas to help your elderly parent stay on top of things and keep their brain active and healthy to reduce the frustration of memory deterioration.
Comfort Keepers West Sussex are able to assist with any concerns you may have with the health and well-being of your elderly relative, we have many resources available on this site related to specific care options available to you or for Dementia and Alzheimer’s queries.