Friday, February 27, 2009

78 Million American Baby Boomers Face Memory Loss

Cropped screenshot of Henry Fonda from the fil...Image via Wikipedia

Just last January the oldest of the baby boomers began to turn 62. For the next 18 years a member of the baby boomer generation (the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964) will reach that age every eight seconds. Boomers have long been famous for their desire to stay or at least act young. As an integral part of that effort to stay young is the ability to remember.

Many of us remember the Oscar winning performance of the late Henry Fonda in the movie On Golden Pond. In that movie he portrayed Norman Thayer. In the movie Norman learns not to take life for granted by enjoying it. He also learns not to be so crotchety, and not to dote on death. One unforgettable scene in the movie was when Norman got lost in the woods near his cabin. A place that he knew better than any other yet he became confused, lost and terrified

In an article written by Katie Hafner of the International Herald Tribune the global edition of the New York Times she reported the following “: When David Bunnell, a magazine publisher who lives in Berkeley, California, went to a FedEx store to send a package a few years ago, he suddenly drew a blank as he was filling out the forms.

"I couldn't remember my address," said Bunnell, 60, with a measure of horror in his voice. "I knew where I lived, and I knew how to get there, but I didn't know what the address was."

Bunnell is among tens of millions of baby boomers who are encountering the signs, by turns amusing and disconcerting, that accompany the decline of the brain's acuity: a good friend's name suddenly vanishing from memory; a frantic search for eyeglasses only to find them atop the head; milk taken from the refrigerator then put away in a cupboard.

"It's probably one of the most frightening aspects of the changes we undergo as we age," said Nancy Ceridwyn, director of educational initiatives at the American Society on Aging. "Our memories are who we are. And if we lose our memories we lose that groundedness of who we are."

The possibility of losing ones’ memory is freighting. Not too long ago it was believed that there was not much that could be done to prevent such an occurrence. Now we know that there are things that we can do and foods that we can eat that will help us.

In an article by Wendy Hodsdon, ND she shares that foods and supplements can support memory.

“A balanced diet with protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates can balance the activity in the temporal lobes of the brain. Eating protein at every meal can help stabilize blood sugar levels and help prevent the brain fog that sometimes happens after high carbohydrate or high sugar meals.”

Antioxidants play a pivotal role for memory improvement.Antioxidants in the diet can improve memory by decreasing the free radical damage that can occur with age. Foods highest in antioxidants include fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables. Some of the best antioxidants are found in berries (such as acai, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries), spinach, brussel sprouts, plums, broccoli, beets, avocados, oranges, goji, red bell peppers and cherries. Eating many colors of fruits and vegetables ensures a wide variety of antioxidants to nourish and protect the brain.

Supplements can improve memory, learning and verbal skills. Some of these Supplements that support memory include antioxidants such as alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin E and vitamin C. Ginkgo biloba is an herb that enhances circulation in the brain, which can improve memory and concentration. Phosphatidylserine is a nutrient that is found in food and in cell membranes in the body. In studies where it is given as a supplement, it increases the metabolic activity in the brain and improves memory, learning and verbal skills.

Sharon Begley wrote in an article dated Wednesday, February 25, 2009 3:07 PM that “there is more than enough evidence that physical exercise is good for the brain, bringing benefits like lower cholesterol and blood pressure, but here’s more: it can increase the size of your hippocampus, the structure responsible for the formation and storage of new memories as well as for spatial navigation--finding your way around.

In a paper to be published in the journal Hippocampus, scientists report that elderly people who are physically fit generally have a larger hippocampus and better spatial memory than peers who are less fit. Previous studies have shown that challenging the hippocampus—exercising its spatial skills and its memory abilities—can increase its volume, too. London cabbies have bigger ones than your average Londoner, and experienced cabbies have larger ones than newbies, suggesting that making the hippocampus find its way through London’s labyrinth can boost its size. And exercising its memory-making skills seems to do the same thing: a study of German medical students found that the hippocampus got larger as they studied for finals. This is the first study, however, to show that plain old physical exercise, which does not engage the hippocampus to any real extent, can also give it a boost.”

As we progress through this mortal experience there is no escaping the effects of time and age. However there are things that we can do to optimize our health so as to take full advantage of our own allotted time. Staying fit with regular exercise and eating foods and utilizing dietary supplements rich in antioxidants can help us keep our minds sharp and our memories active as we make the most of our life experience.

1 comment:

Memorywiz said...

Yes the prospect of memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's is terrifying which is perhaps we should do all we can to prevent or delay these: keeping a healthy and agile body and mind, supplements if required, whatever!