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The brain is the powerhouse and control center for all physiological and cognitive functions. It contains billions of neurological connections that work together to carry out complex functions. The brain controls unconscious physiological activities such as breathing, pulse, and digestion; and conscious activities such as thinking, reasoning, and feeling.

The brain is a very complex, sensitive organ that needs to be properly nourished and constantly stimulated in order to function properly and retain flexibility much like an athlete. Over time, the build up of toxins from pollutants, drugs, residues and other sources inhibits proper circulation. Unless properly cared for, the brain receives less and less of the vital nutrients and antioxidants it needs to function properly. When the brain is not functioning properly, memory loss and a whole host of problems ensues.

A normal human brain weighs about 2% of the total body weight. It grows up to 75 - 80% of the adult size within the first two years and full size at the age of 6 years. But the brain shrinks as you grow older. The shrinking starts in adulthood and continues at an average rate of 2% per decade. This means that at 80, your brain will be 12% smaller than at 20.

MEMORY LOSS AND AGING
Like muscles, bones, and other vital organs, the brain also shows the effect of aging. From years of constant use and biological wear and tear, the brain gradually loses some of its sharpness in processing information and in relaying the multitude of signals essential to day-to-day functioning.

As we grow older, we experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions we’ve always taken for granted. It takes longer to learn and recall information. We’re not as quick as we used to be. In fact, we often mistake this slowing of our mental processes as memory loss. But in most cases, if we give ourselves time, the information will come to mind.

ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE (AD)
is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear after age 60.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older people.

DEMENTIA
is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities, to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of daily living.

STROKE
which also affects older people, is another medical problem that can affect someone's memory. A stroke is when blood doesn't get to all parts of the brain, either because there is a blockage in the pathway or because a blood vessel bursts.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The primary difference between age-related memory loss and dementia is that the former isn’t disabling. The short-term memory lapses have little impact on your daily performance and ability to do what you want to do, though this is irritating, as we know we are capable of remembering but have momentary difficulty in doing so. We often say, “It will come back to me shortly.”

Normal age-related memory changes:
  • Able to function independently and pursue normal activities, despite occasional memory lapses.
  • Able to recall and describe incidents of forgetfulness.
  • May pause to remember directions but doesn’t get lost in familiar places.
  • Occasional difficulty finding the right word, but no trouble holding a conversation.
  • Judgment and decision-making ability the same as always.

Symptoms that may indicate dementia:
  • Difficulty performing simple tasks (paying bills, dressing appropriately, washing up); forgetting how to do things you’ve done many times.
  • Unable to recall or describe specific instances where memory loss caused problems.
  • Gets lost or disoriented even in familiar places; unable to follow directions.
  • Words are frequently forgotten, misused, or garbled; Repeats phrases and stories in same conversation.
  • Trouble making choices; May show poor judgment or behave in socially inappropriate ways.

    If you or a loved one is experiencing any signs of a more serious memory problem, it’s important to see a doctor.

CAUSES
It’s important to be aware of ways that your health, environment, and lifestyle may contribute to memory loss or lapses. Sometimes, even what looks like significant memory loss can be caused by treatable conditions and reversible external factors.

SIDE EFFECTS OF MEDICATIONS
Many prescribed and over-the-counter drugs or combinations of drugs can cause cognitive problems and memory loss as a side effect. This is especially common in older adults because absorption of medication is slower. Common medications that affect memory and brain function include sleeping pills, antihistamines, blood pressure and arthritis medication, antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and painkillers.

Depression.
    Depression can mimic the signs of memory loss, making it hard for you to concentrate, stay organized, remember things, and get stuff done. Depression is a common problem in older adults, especially if you’re less socially active than you used to be or you’ve recently experienced emotional upheavals or major life changes (retirement, a serious medical diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, moving out of your home).

Vitamin B12 Deficiency.
    Vitamin B12 protects neurons and is vital to healthy brain functioning. In fact, a lack of Vitamin B12 can cause permanent damage to the brain. Older people have a slower nutritional absorption rate, which makes it difficult for you to get the Vitamin B12 on your brain. If you smoke or drink, you may be at particular risk. If you address a Vitamin B12 deficiency early, you can reverse the associated memory problems.

Thyroid problems.
    The thyroid gland controls metabolism: if your metabolism is too fast, you may feel confused, and if it’s too slow, you can feel sluggish and depressed. Thyroid problems can cause memory problems such as forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. • Alcohol abuse. Excessive alcohol intake is toxic to brain cells, and alcohol abuse leads to memory loss. Over time, alcohol abuse may also increase the risk of dementia. Because of the damaging effects of excessive drinking, experts advise limiting your daily intake to just 1-2 drinks.

Dehydration.
    Older adults are particularly susceptible to dehydration. Severe dehydration can cause confusion, drowsiness, memory loss, and other symptoms that look like dementia. It’s important to stay hydrated (aim for 6-8 drinks per day). Be particularly vigilant if you take diuretics or laxatives or suffer from diabetes, high blood sugar, or diarrhea.

BRAIN HEALTH AND PREVENTION
Your memory, just like the rest of your body needs specific nutrients to stay sharp and healthy. Without proper nutrition and mental stimulation, your mental sharpness and clarity could decline prematurely. As you get older your body also starts to make less of the chemicals your brain cells need to work. The older you are, the more these changes can affect your memory.

HERE ARE SOME PRACTICES THAT CONTRIBUTE TO HEALTHY AGING AND PHYSICAL VITALITY ALSO CONTRIBUTE TO HEALTHY MEMORY.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Keep your mind active, play mental calisthenics.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Manage stress.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Socialize as often as you can.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Take vitamins and brain supplements such as BrainMaster®.




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