Tuesday, 29 November 2011 13:08
Maybe you forgot something basic, like your phone number, your age, or the name of your husband. Or you might have begun a conversation only to forget what you were talking about halfway through a sentence. If so, you may have been the victim of a "senior moment" - a momentary lapse of memory or mental function. Over time, it's normal to experience age-related memory loss, but many people fear that senior moments are a sign of something being wrong.
Here's the good news: While senior moments can sometimes be frightening, they are not usually indicative of anything serious. Experts agree that these memory lapses do occur more often as we age, but they are usually due to stress caused by trying to think about too many things at once (just look at Rick Perry's debate blunder). Other causes for senior moments include natural hormonal changes, mood fluctuations, and a decrease in the number of neurotransmitters in the brain. Luckily, research has shown that there are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce these frustrating and embarrassing gaffes.
Here are seven ways to reduce the likelihood that you will experience a senior moment:
*Try Ginseng As we age, many of us have a growing fear of losing our minds. However, forgetfulness is often a result of being overly busy or stressed out. An easy way to combat this is to start drinking ginseng tea. Ginseng is an herb that can help reduce stress, increase endurance, and bolster mental clarity. Several studies have shown that regularly consuming ginseng increases mental performance and memory in older adults.
*Exercise A healthy body is crucial for maintaining a healthy brain. Exercising regularly is not just helpful for weight loss, stress reduction and mood - it also keeps your mind focused and alert. Cardiovascular exercise keeps the brain supplied with the nutrients and oxygen it needs to function at its optimal level. If it's been a while since you've exercised, start off slow with a 30-minute walk per day. Build up your endurance with the goal of exercising with moderate to high intensity at least a few times per week.
*Use Your Computer Regular computer use can protect against mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a brain-function syndrome that serves as a catalyst for many senior moments. One study found that when moderate exercise and computer use are combined, the benefit is even more pronounced. This was true no matter how often the study participants used computers, even if it was only once a week.
*Challenge Your Brain Keep your mind stimulated to ensure that your brain stays active. In addition to reading and writing frequently, turn to your morning newspaper for simple but brain-engaging games. Sudoku and crossword puzzles are good places to start. In general, try to regularly engage your senses through activities like gardening or learning a new language.
*Eat Your Berries Berries contain phytochemicals, which are believed to defend the body against damaging carcinogens and free radicals. Blueberries are especially helpful in enhancing mental functioning. They are packed with antioxidants and contain the memory-boosting anthocyanin. Blueberries are also an excellent source of flavonoids, which are natural compounds that have been shown to enhance spatial learning.
*Stop Multitasking It's hard to resist the urge to multitask, since many of us lead complicated and busy lives. But it turns out that multitasking can actually be detrimental to our ability to remember things. To optimize your memory functioning, try to do just one thing at a time.
*Get Enough Sleep Lack of sleep can significantly impair memory function. When we form memories, they are first stored in the short-term hippocampus region of the brain. During sleep, a process called "memory consolidation" takes place, which causes the memories to cement in your brain. Getting a good amount of sleep gives that process more time to work.
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