Recalling Your Recall
Expert offers advice on improving your memory
SATURDAY, May 24 (HealthScoutNews) -- Just because you have trouble finding your car keys or it takes you a few minutes to remember the name of a familiar-looking person doesn't mean you have to worry about Alzheimer's disease.
These lapses may be annoying, but this kind of temporary forgetfulness is one of the changes that naturally happen as we age, notes Alzheimer's expert Dr. George Grossberg, director of geriatric psychiatry at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
"We tend to let things that are unimportant to us slide. We forget for the moment and it's frustrating. But if the information comes back to us later when we really think about it, we have an annoying little problem that isn't particularly serious," Grossberg says in a news release.
However, if that information is important and a person is never able to retrieve it from their memory, that may indicate a more serious problem.
Grossberg offers some advice on how to bolster your memory and deal with those annoying lapses:
Determine what's causing your forgetfulness. Where you talking on the cell phone or listening to the radio when you made that wrong turn while driving? You may be trying to do too many things at once. Turn off the radio, put down the cell phone and focus on driving.
Exercising your body benefits your mind. Exercise increases the amount of "feel-good" endorphins in your body, improving your mood and preventing depression. That's important because depression causes cognitive decline and is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
Give your mind a workout, too. Mental challenges help rewire connections in the brain. That enhances the brain's activity and makes it more resistant to disease. Find a new hobby, learn to play chess, use your left hand if you're right-handed, learn a new language.
Take care of your health. Controlling the risk factors for cardiovascular disease -- such as high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol and obesity -- may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's.
Get enough sleep. Lack of deep, restful sleep causes cognitive impairment later in life. And if you're sleep-deprived, you're more likely to be forgetful and unable to think clearly now. If you have trouble sleeping, get expert help to determine the problem.
Feed your brain. Some research indicates that antioxidant vitamins may help protect against Alzheimer's disease. The B vitamins, especially B12, and folate are important in brain cell function. If necessary, take a supplement.
Mind your meds. Some prescription and over-the-counter medicines can cause memory or concentration problems. Talk to you doctor about these issues.
Grossberg says you should be concerned about your forgetfulness if it starts to affect your ability to function on a daily basis. If that's the case, you should see your doctor.
Here's where you can learn more about memory.
SOURCE: Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center, news release, May 2003
Copyright © 2003 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.