As part of the aging process, many seniors may experience difficulty with concentration, including long or short term memory loss. Fortunately, the human brain is capable of producing new brain cells with the right exercises and stimulation. Keeping the aging brain active with daily routines, memory tools such as notes, calendars and other reminders, diet and exercise, and memory improvement games have been proven to prevent memory loss and enhance cognitive skills. A study, published in the December 2006 Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that five years of regular brain exercises did indeed improve the lives of participating seniors.
There are many causes of memory loss – some of which include: dehydration, lack of nutrition, some medications, stress, depression, diabetes, alcoholism, heart disease, head injury, and certain medical problems.
Many activities and memory games or brain teasers are available for seniors such as puzzles, word search, cross word, Sudoku, flash cards, bingo, trivia, and fun board games that promote mental focus. Another effective stimulant is a sing-along to include familiar songs and lyrics. In addition, there are scores of online memory games for the “computer savvy” senior – most of which are free. Keeping the mind sharp by learning a handicraft or practicing life skills (problem solving behaviors) will also help with mental decline.
It is important to understand that memory loss and dementia (extreme forgetfulness) are not the same. Memory loss or difficulty with concentration are normally fairly subtle. Most people can live with these symptoms easily. Dementia can actually interfere with life, presenting indicators such as forgetting where you are, not remembering if you ate, visual hallucinations, personality changes, being unable to find your way home, or not knowing who your loved ones are. True dementia cannot be reversed.
If you or a loved one are experiencing more frequent memory loss or are having trouble concentrating on normal daily activities, make an appointment to visit with your doctor so he can track any changes and help maintain an independent lifestyle.