Reports about the rising tide of dementia may seem frightening, but the truth is there are lots of things you can do that may help prevent memory loss. Some of the easiest involve making healthier lifestyle choices. Managing stress; exercising regularly; getting enough sleep; eating a good diet and getting enough of the essential nutrients your body needs; cutting down on alcohol; and throwing away that last pack of cigarettes are some of the important lifestyle adjustments you can make to help improve and protect your memory. A study reported in 2005 showed that even older Americans may improve their memory by instituting a memory-improvement plan consisting of regular mental exercises (working crossword puzzles, word games, brainteasers, and the like), daily physical activity, a healthier diet, and stress reduction.
The following pages will explain how such simple lifestyle adjustments may help sharpen and protect your memory. You'll also learn the importance of having your doctor or pharmacist review all the prescription or over-the-counter medications you take, since many drugs, used individually or in combination, can fog your memory. And you'll find out about supplements that have been touted to help improve memory and whether they're even worth considering. Of course, if you find that you still have concerns about your memory even after making lifestyle improvements, or if you notice sudden or worrisome changes in your memory or thinking ability that seem unrelated to lifestyle factors, you should contact your doctor without delay. There are a variety of diseases and medical conditions that can affect your memory, and if you have one, treating it is likely to be the first step to improving your memory.
On the next page, learn about how stress can affect memory.