Myths and Truths About Memory

Concerned about memory loss? You’re not alone. Alzheimer's disease has been found to be second only to cancer for people's biggest health fears, and a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in eight adults age 60 and older had recently noticed more memory loss or confusion.

The good news: You can take steps to keep your mind sharp as you get older. Constantine Lyketsos, M.D., director of the Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center at Johns Hopkins, dispelled a few popular memory myths and shared a few truthful ways you can keep your mind sharp as you get older. Read the full article in the Johns Hopkins Medicine's Health Library's Healthy Aging section.

Myth: Forgetfulness = Alzheimer’s.
Truth: It’s normal to have more memory slipups as you get older.

They’re not necessarily signs that you have a serious problem like Alzheimer’s. Forgetting where you put your keys is not unusual, but forgetting what the keys are used for is a red flag.

Myth: Doing puzzles can improve your overall memory.
Truth: The benefits are limited.

Crosswords and other puzzles are forms of memory training that can improve memory, but a puzzle will only strengthen the type of memory it uses. Doing crossword puzzles will help you get better at crosswords and reading mystery stories may help you get better at solving mysteries. But these won’t necessarily help you remember directions or people’s names better.

Here are a few meaningful memory boosts that have been proven to keep your mind sharp as you age.

Truth: Exercise can help your memory.

Exercise—even simple forms like walking and cycling—may keep your mind sharp. Research shows that physical activity may also lower your risk of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise can help promote better blood flow to your brain and it also requires you to think by learning movements or keeping count of repetitions.

Truth: What you eat can keep you mentally sharp.

“If it’s good for your heart, it’s good for your brain.” Research supports that a Mediterranean-style diet may lower your risk of heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease while boosting your brain’s functioning. A Mediterranean diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, fish, grains, beans, nuts and olive oil while minimizing red meat and sugary sweets.

Truth: Hidden factors may be harming your memory.

Sometimes memory problems are related to lifestyle issues that are treatable, including:

  • Depression
  • Heavy drinking
  • Isolation
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Wanda Carter April 7, 2015 at 8:24 am

Great article! Especially for those of us who are up in age. This small segment of the article is very enlighting and was very informative. It certainly opened my eyes to things that I thought were working for me such as doing puzzles regularly for brain power. I certainly will begin to incorporate more exercise into my daily schedule and work on changing my eating habits.
Thank you!

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Constance M. Stewart April 7, 2015 at 12:30 am

The information in this topic was very helpful and I would like to see more of this information printed on other topics.

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