Memory Problems

Memory Problems

All of us forget things or have difficulty paying attention from time to time, but sometimes these issues are symptomatic of underlying health problems. Stress may be a factor for all of us, and in older people, persistent or progressive forgetfulness may sometimes be a sign of dementia.

Symptoms

  • Occasional episodes of forgetfulness are normal, especially as we get older, and are not necessarily anything to worry about, as long as memory loss does not interfere with your ability to perform your daily activities or look after yourself safely and competently
  • Cerebral insufficiency is the term used to describe a cluster of symptoms that occur in old age. In addition to memory problems, symptoms may also include Tinnitus, confusion, Fatigue, mood problems and headaches
  • Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia involve persistent and progressive memory loss. For example, the sufferer may forget the names of people they know intimately, the names or functions of certain objects, and knowledge of events or experiences that they have held for a long time. They may also lose the ability to follow directions, or to perform the tasks of daily living such as washing and dressing themselves, or cooking meals

Causes

  • It is reasonably common to experience a certain amount of memory loss as you get older, but this does not necessarily mean that you are getting Alzheimer's disease or dementia. In some cases, memory loss in older people may be a consequence of normal age-related changes to the functioning and quantity of the brain's neurones
  • In some cases, memory problems in old age may be associated with dehydration, deficiency of key nutrients (e.g. vitamin B1, vitamin B12, folic acid), blood sugar or thyroid problems, or may be symptomatic of infections (e.g. Cystitis)
  • Some research suggests that memory changes in old age may be more significant in those who don't 'exercise' their brains, for example by engaging in stimulating conversation and intellectual pursuits
  • Alzheimer's disease is associated with damage to the nerve fibres of the brain, which accumulate plaques in them. Aluminium accumulates in the plaques, but it is not clear whether this is a cause or a consequence of the condition. Head trauma may contribute in some cases
  • Factors that may be linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease include consuming a diet that is high in saturated or trans fatty acids, Free Radical Damage, high levels of homocysteine, and inadequate consumption of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA

Nutritional & Herbal Support

  • As we get older, our nutritional requirements change, and so do our dietary habits and our ability to absorb the nutrients in our food. To safeguard against nutritional deficiency, take an advanced multivitamin that's specially designed to support senior nutrition. Important ingredients include antioxidants, zinc and lecithin
  • Ginkgo biloba helps maintain healthy memory and supports brain function. It may be particularly beneficial in cerebral insufficiency, as it supports the integrity of the blood vessels of the brain. A suitable dose is 6000 mg of ginkgo per day, standardised for its content of ginkgo flavonglycosides
  • Rhodiola relieves Stress and helps promote vitality, energy and mental clarity. To support memory and concentration, it is often taken in combination with B group vitamins, which are essential for healthy nervous system function
  • Lecithin is a natural source of the phospholipids phosphatidyl choline and phosphatidyl serine, which are required for healthy brain function
  • High blood levels of a compound called homocysteine increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and are also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Taking folic acid, especially in combination with vitamins B6 and B12 may help to regulate homocysteine levels and assist in the maintenance of healthy brain, nervous system and cardiovascular function
  • Omega-3 fats from fish oil and salmon oil support brain function and cognition. As with folic acid and its co-factors, omega-3 fats may also have additional benefits for the cardiovascular system

Diet & Lifestyle advice

  • Severe, persistent or recurrent memory problems may be indicative of underlying disease, and require medical investigation
  • Alzheimer's disease and dementia can be Stressful for both the sufferer and their carers, but support is available. Talk to your doctor for more information
  • Eat plenty of whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and high quality proteins. Oily fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines are an excellent choice because they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for normal healthy brain function
  • Avoid saturated fats and trans fats, which may contribute to impaired circulation to the brain
  • Drink at least two litres of water every day
  • Until more information is available to confirm the link between aluminium and Alzheimer's disease, it is wise to avoid the use of aluminium-containing cookware, deodorants and medicines (e.g. antacids)
  • Exercise both your body and your brain every day. A brisk 30-minute walk or other form of moderate activity stimulates circulation and helps improve blood flow to the brain. Similarly, performing mental puzzles or engaging in stimulating conversation on a daily basis can help to maintain memory and cognitive function
  • Don't smoke or drink alcohol - it causes Free Radical Damage and harms the blood vessels of the brain

If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.

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