You've probably forgotten where you put your keys at some point. Or, worse,
you've completely forgotten your wife's birthday. Did you worry that you were
becoming more forgetful? Most of us are concerned about memory lapses,
especially as we get older, and wonder if we're showing signs of dementia or
Alzheimer's disease. If you are anxious about memory lapses or concerned that
you maintain your memory as you age, there's good news: there are things you can
First, seek professional help or advise if you are struggling with alcohol
abuse, depression, stress, or sleeping problems. All of these conditions may
influence your ability to remember things. In addition, poor memory may be a
result of other treatable medical conditions, such as dehydration or a thyroid
Second, talk to your doctor about replacing or reducing certain medications.
Many prescription drugs, such as Elavil, Inderal, Miltown, Pepcid, Tagamet, and
Valium, may affect your memory. Your doctor may be able to suggest some
alternative medications or therapies. Whatever medicines you're taking, if you
notice a change in your memory, consult your doctor. You should also know that
medications that normally don't affect memory may become problems when they
interact with other drugs or with alcohol.
Third, get your vitamins. Vitamin deficiencies (especially B12)
may be to blame for poor memory. A recent study found that people who have good
memories also have high levels of vitamin E in their blood. This supports prior
research that seems to indicate that vitamin E may slow mental deterioration in
people with Alzheimer's.
Finally, stay physically and mentally active. Try taking a brisk walk every
day. Volunteer, learn a language, or take up a hobby. Work crossword and jigsaw
puzzles. Write things down, such as ideas or plans, to force your mind to
register the information twice and help you remember it. Practicing meditation
will also help you to keep your memory sharp by teaching you how to focus your
attention. The good news is that, while some memory loss may be an inevitable
part of aging, memory is, to a large degree, retainable.
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Nutrition Examination Survey. Am J Epidemiol. 1999;150(1):37-44.
Sano M, Ernesto C, Thomas RG, Klauber MR. A controlled trial of selegiline,
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