A word on the tip of your tongue that you can’t quite reach? Halfway through a task and can’t remember what you were doing? Speaking to someone you know well, but you can’t recall her name?
We have all experienced the occasional memory hiccup, but when these become more frequent, we start to wonder if we are having problems with our memory or even seeing the early signs of dementia.
Memory isn’t a physical thing that we can look at and see if it has changed. We have to rely on our own observations and those of others around us to recognise that our memory is not in tip-top condition.
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Memory can be affected by many factors:
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of exercise
- High fever
- Severe alcohol intoxication
- Use of some medication such as sleeping pills and antidepressants
- Drug use
- Nutritional deficiency
- Physical or mental fatigue
- Menopause (hormonal unbalance)
Because of the many possible causes, it is important to consult a doctor for any major loss of memory, especially if the person forgets the purpose of things, big parts of the day, where they live, or people they interact with on a regular basis.
What can be done to improve your memory depends on whether or not there is a problem underlying your forgetfulness. Some useful tips include:
Being more aware – some people are just more easily distracted than others, often losing car keys, wallets or handbags. For these, improving your memory could simply be a question of paying more attention on a day-to-day basis
Conditions such as the menopause, feeling low in mood or stressed and sleep problems can lead to poor concentration and memory. Address these underlying issues and your memory can improv
Medication - Certain prescribed medicines can cause memory loss as a side-effect. If you suspect that this is the case with you, see your doctor
Exercise – this not only improves your physical health but exercise encourages blood to flow round your body, forces you to breathe deeply and in doing so, helps to push more blood to your brain
Diet – oily fish, nuts and seeds contain loads of essential fatty acids good for the brain. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, this is especially so after you consume alcohol. And, of course, drink moderately.
Our brain has specific nutritional needs.
Our brain needs essential fatty acids. Excellent sources are: raw nuts and seeds (non-roasted), cold pressed olive oils or VegOmega-3 capsules. The oils in VegOmega-3 are extracted from plants that are free of heavy metal contaminants. Oils that undergo a decontamination process are harder to digest. Hence VegOmega-3 is easier to digest and assimilate than fish oils, and is effective even in small doses.
Lecithin plays an important role in the transmission of nervous impulses involved in memory. Foods rich in lecithin are: liquid egg yolk, soya, raw wheat germ, nuts and seeds.
Vitamins B contribute to proper brain function. B6 is particularly important for remembering dreams. Brewer’s y east, raw wheat germ, eggs, cabbage and green vegetables are good sources of vitamins B.
The ideal supplement to support memory is Ginkgoforce or Ginkgo Extra from A.Vogel. Unlike most Ginkgo extract on the market, those products are holistic extracts.
They increase microcirculation (blood flow through the smallest blood vessels) in the brain, revitalizing the cerebral cortex thus preventing memory loss and improving mental alertness.
If intellectual faculties are starting to show signs of fatigue, Ginkgo can be used to slow down the deterioration process and help maintain a normal quality of life for many years.
For those suffering from a more serious problem, Ginkgo can help improve both mood and alertness. Ginkgo can help memory even if it already functions properly, which can be very helpful when studying for exams.
Bio-Strath contains 61 nutritional elements that support brain health and increase energy levels. Scientific studies clearly show that Bio-Strath improves concentration and memory in most situations.
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia characterised by physical changes to brain tissue. Like other forms of dementia, it gives rise to memory loss as well as other defects in brain function such as the ability to think and reason.
People who notice memory loss may worry that they could be suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, especially if they are beyond the age of 60 or 70. It is important to remember that with age, a slight loss of memory is common and normal – and does not necessarily indicate early signs of dementia.
Stress, fatigue or even drugs may have a negative impact on memory.
If you or someone you know is experiencing many of these symptoms, it is advisable to consult a physician:
- difficulty in performing familiar tasks
- poor or decreased judgment
- memory loss that affects day-to-day function
- misplacing things
- problems with language
- disorientation of time and place
- problems with abstract thinking
- loss of initiative
- changes in mood or behaviour
- changes in personality
If you are worried that you (or someone you know) may have Alzheimer’s, try the clock test. Without looking at a clock, try to draw one, including the numbers on the face of the clock. Then, draw in the hands to indicate a specific time (such as 3.40).
You get one point for drawing a closed circle, one point for placing the numbers correctly, one point for including all twelve numbers and one point for placing the hands correctly at the time specified.
If you get 4 points, the probability that you have dementia is very low.
On the other hand, if there are one or more errors, this may indicate the presence of cognitive impairment or dementia.
A complementary test is needed to evaluate cognitive functions in more detail.