What to look out for in our Elderly Loved Ones
1. Poor Sleep
The average adult sleeps between 7 and 8.5 hours each night. One of the biggest contributors to short term memory loss not getting enough rest. Sleep issues tend to exacerbate as we get older.
2. Side effects of medication and/or over medicating
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. Common medications that affect memory and brain function include sleeping pills, antihistamines, blood pressure and arthritis medication, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and painkillers. Taking too many medications can also create cognitive problems. But do NOT stop taking your medications without your doctor’s consent.
3. Vitamin deficiency
Nutritional deficiencies have been known to be the root of many ailments. It is estimated that half of all elders are vitamin D deficient, and even less elders get enough vitamin C. Vitamin deficiency can cause mild to severe cognitive decline, so it’s important to be aware of your nutritional needs.
4. Depression & Anxiety
Severe depression or grief can sometimes cause forgetfulness and memory loss, as well as generally impacting your ability to concentrate. Feelings of sadness, extreme grief and other emotional trauma can result in feeling ‘out of touch’, or ‘in a fog’ and forgetting small details.
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.
How to combat these signs of memory Loss
Stay social. People who aren’t socially engaged with family and friends are at higher risk for memory problems than people who have strong social ties. Quality face-to-face social interaction can greatly reduce stress and is powerful medicine for the brain, so schedule time with friends, join a book club, or any activity where you can stay engaged socially.
Get enough sleep. Try to follow a regular sleep schedule and remove all distracting electronics, work, books, and other materials that might cause you to stay awake, you'll know best what this is. You can also consider using a white noise machine. Meditation and listening to calming music before bed can also help you relax your body and mind in preparation for sleep.
Watch what you eat. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink green tea as these foods contain many antioxidants which can keep your brain cells from deteriorating. Foods rich in omega-3 fats (such as salmon, tuna, trout, walnuts, and flaxseed) are particularly good for your brain and memory.
Exercise regularly. Consider starting a regular exercise routine, whether that be walking, golfing, gardening, swimming or yoga, anything that gets your blood pumping and works up a sweat.
We hope you find this information useful when dealing with your loved ones. Although research has been done into causes and effects of memory loss in our elderly loved ones, please always consult your doctor before making any changes to medication, eating or routine.