January 10th, 2011 at 3:12 am
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Memory fitness plan: Upgrade your lifestyle choices

by Kathryn Kilpatrick, M.A. CCC/SLP

Did you know that good health habits can have a positive impact on your ability to remember? How well are you taking care of your body? Adequate sleep, good nutrition and regular exercise matter when it comes to memory fitness.

Day 3 of your memory fitness plan is the day to consider making some small changes in your lifestyle choices. Does one of these areas need more attention?

Sleep Patterns: Many older adults feel they do not sleep well. Without a good night’s sleep, you may notice that you do not concentrate as well and this is essential for your ability to recall information. Unwind an hour or so before going to bed. Try to go to bed at the same time each evening and limit your caffeine intake to earlier in the day only. Often watching the late night news or having a phone call which is upsetting does not promote restful sleep. If you are having ongoing problems, speak with your doctor. Perhaps you need to be evaluated for sleep apnea.

Nutrition: One of the most important things you can do for your brain is to start the day with a healthy breakfast. It increases your blood sugar level and helps you maintain mental clarity throughout the day. Low blood sugar interferes with brain functioning. Make sure you include fruit, a source of protein and some grains. Limit your intake of sweets. If you have special diet restrictions, you need to take them seriously as well.

Remember to drink an adequate amount of water. Some older adults reduce their intake of liquids to minimize the need for bathroom breaks. Unfortunately, I often have patients each year who become confused, are hospitalized and sometimes the reason was dehydration.

Perhaps, on day 3 of your memory fitness plan, you might focus on just eating healthy snacks. Another week you could add a new fruit or vegetable to your diet or find a healthier snack. Notice what you are eating. Your ability to pay attention and focus will benefit from replacing some of your food choices with healthier options.

Exercise: Research repeatedly supports exercising for successful aging and make sure you check with your doctor before starting any new program. You need to get the flow of blood to your brain and exercise is really a good way to make that happen. Even those with some physical limitations can find an exercise program that would be appropriate. On day 3 of your memory fitness plan you might work out for 5 -10 minutes, then the next week increase to 15 minutes. For details on the 7 day program, refer to Create a Memory Fitness Plan.

“He who would live long must sometimes change his way of living.” ITALIAN SAYING

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