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As we age, everyone has so-called “senior moments” from time to time.  For example, we walk into a room, and we can’t remember why we came; we forget where we laid our keys; we forget someone’s name.  

When this happens, we often ask ourselves, “Is this normal aging?  

Each of these situations can be concerning but are often found to be a normal part of aging.  

What does normal aging in the brain mean?

As we get older, parts of the brain do shrink, and the communication between one part of the brain and another slows.  Blood flow to the brain may decrease. Inflammation in the brain may increase. Each of these changes can affect our mental functions even as healthy adults. 

There are ways to preserve brain health.

We can do this through changes in our lifestyle; changes involving what we eat and what we do.  

For example, you can begin a regular exercise regimen such as walking regularly. Studies have shown that exercise of some kind 150 minutes per week has a protective effect on our brains. 

You can make some changes to your diet to include more fresh fruits and vegetables. The Mediterranean diet and the MIND diet are two diets which have shown evidence of improving or slowing cognitive decline.  To read more about these diets please go to the following website: 

You can increase activities with others to decrease social isolation. If you are mostly alone, take steps to be more engaged with others. For example, join a group at your local senior center, church, or community organization.  Engaging in conversation is good for our brain health. 

Sleep is a very important part of brain health. It may be that with a few changes, you can ensure a good night’s sleep of at least 6-7 hours.  Talk with your doctor if you are not sleeping well. 

Hearing is another important part of brain health. If you have a hearing problem, be sure to see a specialist to determine if you need to be fitted for a hearing aid.  

Another area which can affect your brain health is your blood pressure. Be sure to check your blood pressure regularly and take medications if directed to decrease high blood pressure.  

Being intentional about addressing these issues will help to promote your brain health.  

The National Institute of Aging website provides good information on normal aging and what you can do to maintain good brain health. For example, it states that you should consider both environmental and lifestyle factors that you can change or managed to help reduce your risk. They list the following factors: 

  • Some physical and mental health problems, such as high blood pressure or depression 
  • Some medications or improper use of medicines 
  • Exercising too little 
  • Eating a poor Diet 
  • Smoking 
  • Drinking too much alcohol 
  • Having Sleep problems 
  • Being Socially isolated and/or lonely 

The above information is provided by: 

Note: Many individuals begin experiencing memory loss and fear that they have dementia. There may be another explanation for memory loss including: 

  • Mismanaged medications 
  • Hormonal deficiencies 
  • Electrolyte imbalance 
  • Transient Ischemic Attacks 
  • Delirium 
  • Malnutrition 
  • Anemia 
  • Stress 
  • Depression 
  • Infections 
  • Alcohol Use 

If you are concerned about your memory or your ability to problem solve or to organize your thinking, please talk with your doctor.