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Memory Loss: Can it be prevented?

As people age, memory loss can become a major concern. It is frightening to think about losing your memories and cognitive abilities.

It is important to remember that memory loss is not inevitable. There are ways to delay or prevent the onset.

What causes memory loss?

Memory loss is linked to many risk factors including genetics and age. Memory loss can be caused by:

* Aging – As we age, the brain undergoes changes that may affect our memory and cognitive functions. This is part of normal aging, and not necessarily an indication of serious health conditions. If memory loss interferes with your daily life, or prevents you from fulfilling your responsibilities, then you need medical help to diagnose, treat, and manage your condition.

Head injuries: Traumatic Brain Injuries, such as concussions can cause permanent or temporary memory loss.

* Conditions of chronic health: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Multiple Sclerosis can all cause memory loss.

Substance Use Disorder: Memory loss can be caused by substance abuse.

* Medication: Certain prescribed medications may cause memory loss. Inform your doctor or pharmacist of any memory loss you may experience that could be caused by your medication. Your doctor may adjust your dose or prescribe a new medication.

Preventing Memory Loss

Although it’s impossible to prevent all memory loss, there are steps that can be taken to minimize the risk and preserve cognitive functioning. Some strategies to prevent or delay memory loss include:

* Regular physical activity improves cognitive function and reduces the risk of dementia.

* Eat a nutritious diet: Research has shown that a diet high in fruits, vegetables and other nutrients is associated with better cognitive function, as well as a reduced risk of memory loss.

Keep your brain active by engaging in challenging activities such as games, puzzles, learning new skills and difficult books.

Simple mindfulness meditation can reduce stress and improve cognitive and emotional well-being. Spend some time every day focusing on your breathing. Observe your posture and any sensations you feel in the moment. Listen to your surroundings. Try not to make a judgement about the situation. Be mindful of the moment.

* Avoid substance abuse. Limit or avoid alcohol consumption, smoking or the use of drugs, intoxicants, medications or other substances that are not prescribed or monitored by your physician.

* Manage chronic health problems: Chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension can increase your risk of memory loss. To reduce the risk for memory loss, it is important to treat these conditions with medication, lifestyle modifications, and other treatments.

* Management of medication:

Memory loss can be a concern for older people, but is not inevitable. It is possible to preserve cognitive function and reduce the risk for memory loss by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

If you’re concerned about memory loss, or if your cognitive function has changed in any way, tell your doctor.

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