Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Strengthen the Memory of Your Spouse

Most of the focus on dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease, has been on what you can do to reduce your own risk of losing your memory.  But what if you are worried about your spouse's memory?  Is there anything you can do to help them?  According to the "Healthy You" column in the August/September 2016 issue of AARP Magazine, there are actually a number of steps we can take if we start to notice that our spouse is starting to have memory issues ... and you don't even have to tell them what you are doing!

How to Help Your Spouse's Memory (and Your Own)

The good news is that anything you do to help your spouse's memory will also help improve yours.  In this way, you both benefit.  Below are their recommendations:

Babysit your grandkids occasionally - According to Australian research, watching grandchildren once or twice a week stimulates our memories, but only if it doesn't become a daily grind.  Keep things fresh and new by doing it no more than twice a week.  Having fun with your grandchildren will also prevent a common problem as we age ... isolation and loneliness.

Both of you should lie down for a daily nap - A German study showed that getting enough rest improves our memories and a 45 to 90 minute nap has been shown to help us retain more information.

Explore your creativity - Mayo Clinic researchers discovered that having an artistic hobby during both middle age and old age reduces your likelihood of cognitive decline by a whopping 73 percent!  Encourage your spouse to pull out that old paint set, pick up the guitar, sign up for classes, or join a group.  While you're at it, explore your own creative side, too!

Do home repairs together - Doing home repairs is another way to draw on our creative juices.  Columbia University discovered that measuring, building, painting and making repairs requires us to activate our memories. 

Exercise together - Over and over again, different researchers have shown that any exercise that is good for the heart is also good for the brain ... since our brain is using about 20% of the blood in our body at any given time.  The effect of exercise on the the brain is so impressive that the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered that just one 20 minute exercise session can improve a person's long-term memory by around 10 percent!

Have a drink together - Up to one or two alcoholic beverages in a day have been shown to help your memory, in some studies.  However, if you don't drink, don't take it up in the hope that it will improve your health.  There are other techniques which are just as effective.  In addition, too much alcohol can do more harm than good and alcohol often has negative interactions with many of the medications senior citizens are prescribed.

Eat a healthy diet - A balanced diet is an important part of any memory prevention program.  Among the foods which were specifically mentioned in the AARP Magazine article were asparagus, shrimp, split peas and walnuts.  In other articles I have read, dark green vegetables and fatty fish are often recommended, as well.

How to Tell If You Need to See a Doctor (or Send Your Spouse to One) about Memory Loss

Let's face it.  All of us occasionally forget a name, miss an appointment or lose our keys.  When does that normal memory loss become something which should worry us?  The AARP Magazine article suggested you should discuss memory loss with your doctor if you answer "yes" to two or more of the questions listed below:

Do you look forward to lunch with friends, but forget to go?
Do you have trouble following a recipe you have made many times before?
Do you always have to rely on notes or your phone to remember things?
Do you have trouble remembering today's date or what season it is?
Are you paranoid and believe other people are "out to get you?"

If you are interested in more information about dementia, healthy aging, financial planning, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit:  morguefile.com

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