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How To Help Prevent Memory Loss As You Age

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Do you seem to have more difficulty paying attention as you grow older? Dr. Cynthia Green, author of Total Memory Workout, discusses how we could possibly change our ability to remember as we age.

STACEY: I'm Stacey Tisdale for howdini.com. The common wisdom is that the older you get the worse your memory gets. But does it have to be that way? No, according to Dr. Cynthia Green, psychologist and author of Total Memory Workout. Thank you so much for joining us.

DR. GREEN: Thank you.

STACEY: How is it that we could possibly change our ability to remember as we age?

DR. GREEN: As we grow older things change. They change for us physically and they change for us intellectually. Not all the changes are bad. But some things do change that make it harder to remember. For example we have more difficulty paying attention as we grow older. We also have more difficulty processing things quickly, so that the speed in which we work our way through information can change. And finally our flexibility can change, so that our ability to multitask and to juggle kind of multiple balls at once can become more difficult. All of these can be very challenging to memory, but it doesn't mean that it has to negatively impact on our cognitive performance.

STACEY: When is a sign that a memory loss, you know, associated with ageing is a real problem?

DR. GREEN: First of all if you're having problems with your memory that lasts over several months, that is either a gradual decline or a very sudden change in memory function that doesn't go away, then it's a sign that it's probably a memory loss that should be evaluated. In addition, if the memory change starts to interfere with your functioning day to day so that it makes it harder for you to handle things at work or at home. If a loved one, for example, starts to have difficulty managing their finances or cooking or driving, or doing other kinds of things like that that allow them to function independently, that's a sign that the memory loss should be evaluated.

STACEY: Give us some simple strategies for keeping our memory sharp as we grow older.

DR. GREEN: Number one, we really need to lead a memory healthy lifestyle. That includes things like staying physically active, eating a diet that's memory healthy. So, for example, making sure we eat a well-balanced healthy diet that follows any kind of current guidelines, any restrictions that we might need, in addition to really balancing things like alcohol and caffeine which can detract from memory on a day to day basis. Then we also should stay mentally active. The more mentally active you are throughout your lifetime, the lower your risk might be for developing a memory disorder. And that staying mentally engaged and mentally active is just good for you. It keeps your brain juices flowing. So doing things like crossword puzzles or Sudoku or other kinds of word games is great, but you need to do it against the clock because you want to do something that's going to force you to think quickly since that's one of the things we talked about changes as we grow older. We have to stay challenged in that way. The other thing is that it's really important to stay socially engaged and socially active. Research has suggested that being socially engaged keeps our brain going better as we grow older. And there are a lot of benefits to things like volunteering which can also be very stimulating.

STACEY: Great advice Dr. Cynthia Green, psychologist and author of Total Memory Workout. Thank you for joining us.

DR. GREEN: Thank you.

STACEY: I'm Stacey Tisdale for howdini.com.

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