Memory Loss and External Causes
March 2, 2020
Most think memory loss is a natural progression in the aging process but this is not always the case. External factors can be the main contributors to memory loss.
Throughout life annual wellness checks require assessing data such as blood pressure, weight, height, heart rate and oxygen levels. Depending on your age, the specific data that is collected changes based on age. As people begin to approach their 60’s and beyond, adding a memory assessment to the annual wellness check is highly recommended and the good thing is Medicare will most likely cover the cost.
External factors such as medication use, lack of exercise, sleep issues, struggles with anxiety or depression and level of hydration all affect the rate of memory loss in older adults. By participating in a memory assessment, you could get to the bottom of any cognitive decline issues you’re experiencing and possibly even reverse memory loss by controlling external factors.
The use of medications increases with age for most people. Not all, but most. As new medications get added to the daily routine you may notice some changes in how you remember, analyze and respond to various situations and conversations. If you find that with each new medication, the brain seems to get foggier or your emotions feel uncontrollable then look at your list of medications (prescription and over the counter) with a doctor. Have the doc analyze any medication interactions and also find out if there are medications that can be eliminated.
Lack of exercise
It’s no secret that exercise is good for the body and the brain. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise protects the memory and thinking skills. Aerobic exercise such as brisk walking or jogging stimulates the hippocampus in the brain boosting its size and aiding in the release of chemicals that keep the health of brain cells in good shape. On the other end of the spectrum, not exercising has adverse effects on the hippocampus. Lack of exercise can lead to brain shrinkage, increase in white matter and even injuries to parts of the brain.
Too much sleep or too little high quality sleep can lead to challenges with remembering, analyzing or responding to various situations. Researchers at the University of Michigan found out recently that sleep deprivation in older adults doubles the odds of not being able to complete a task appropriately and sleep deprivation triples the number of lapses in attention. Not getting enough sleep effects the brain by weakening the hippocampus which is responsible for retrieving information and passing on newly learned memories to the prefrontal cortex for long term storage. If sleep is interrupted then this process is too which leads to poor cognitive function overtime.
Anxiety and depression
Depression can set in for many seniors due to the increase in isolation. Usually by a certain age, loss occurs in the form of death with spouses, friends and family. It is natural to feel depressed and this depression can lead to memory loss or as some call it “psuedodementia”. When one is depressed the serotonin levels decrease which can cause the brain to slow down and not concentrate as well. This is the “pseudodementia” effect. Don’t take memory loss as a natural side effect of aging. If you find that you or a loved one is showing signs and symptoms of cognitive decline then look into getting a memory screening performed. It could be one of the most proactive ways to take care of your brain and control memory loss.