Vitamin B12 protects neurons and is vital to healthy brain functioning. In fact, a lack of B12 can cause permanent damage to the brain. Older people have a slower nutritional absorption rate, which can make it difficult for you to get the B12 your mind and body need.
If you smoke or drink, you may be at particular risk. If you address a vitamin B12 deficiency early, you can reverse the associated memory problems. Treatment is available in the form of a monthly injection. Thyroid problems.
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Thyroid problems can cause memory problems such as forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. Medication can reverse the symptoms. Alcohol abuse. Excessive alcohol intake is toxic to brain cells, and alcohol abuse leads to memory loss. Over time, alcohol abuse may also increase the risk of dementia.
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Because of the damaging effects of excessive drinking, experts advise limiting your daily intake to just drinks. Older adults are particularly susceptible to dehydration.
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Severe dehydration can cause confusion, drowsiness, memory loss, and other symptoms that look like dementia. Be particularly vigilant if you take diuretics or laxatives or suffer from diabetes, high blood sugar, or diarrhea. Side effects of medication. Many prescribed and over-the-counter drugs or combinations of drugs can cause cognitive problems and memory loss as a side effect. This is especially common in older adults because they break down and absorb medication more slowly.
Common medications that affect memory and brain function include sleeping pills, antihistamines, blood pressure and arthritis medication, muscle relaxants, anticholinergic drugs for urinary incontinence and gastrointestinal discomfort, antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and painkillers. As well as certain individual medications, taking too many medications can also create cognitive problems. A recent study found that the more medications you take, the higher your risk for brain atrophy. Researchers found that the loss of gray matter was most acute in people who took three or more different medications.
The same practices that contribute to healthy aging and physical vitality also contribute to a healthy memory. Stay social. Quality face-to-face social interaction can greatly reduce stress and is powerful medicine for the brain, so schedule time with friends, join a book club, or visit the local senior center.
Smoking heightens the risk of vascular disorders that can cause stroke and constrict arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain. When you quit smoking , the brain quickly benefits from improved circulation. Manage stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, damages the brain over time and can lead to memory problems. But even before that happens, stress or anxiety can cause memory difficulties in the moment.
But simple stress management techniques can minimize these harmful effects. Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation reduces the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus and causes problems with memory, concentration, and decision-making.
It can even lead to depression—another memory killer. Watch what you eat. Eating too many calories, though, can increase your risk of developing memory loss or cognitive impairment. Exercise regularly. Starting a regular exercise routine , including cardio and strength training, may reduce your risk of developing dementia by up to 50 percent. New research indicates that walking six to nine miles every week can prevent brain shrinkage and memory loss. Just as physical exercise can make and keep your body stronger, mental exercise can make your brain work better and lower your risk of mental decline.
Try to find brain exercises that you find enjoyable. Central Virginia Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. Some families can apply for enrollment in the grant-funded Dementia Care Program, which offers in-home evaluations, patient and family advocacy and personalized caregiver support. Return to Search. Charlottesville, VA Directions. Charlottesville , VA United States At one visit, you'll meet with a neurologist to discuss your memory and cognition.
Your Team Your team includes neurologists, neuropsychologists, social workers, nurse practitioners and a nurse coordinator.
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