As we age, it's common to wonder about age-related memory problems.

First, know that you aren't alone - more than 60 percent of people 60 and older notice memory changes. While there is a great deal of concern about Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, some memory issues are part of the natural aging process and shouldn't be cause for too much concern. For example, some people notice they have trouble remembering names as they get older. This is not a sign of dementia, which is defined as a decline in mental abilities to a degree that daily activities are affected (Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia.)

One common rule of thumb is that forgetting where you put your car keys is normal, while forgetting what your car keys are for would be cause for concern. In fact, as long as you have been evaluated by a physician and have ruled out dementia as a cause, there are things you can do to improve your memory performance. Some people find that adhering to some of the typical healthy lifestyle recommendations can help with memory improvement. For example, physical exercise, eating healthy foods and controlling your blood pressure are part of a healthy lifestyle that can benefit your memory.

In addition, you can do activities to keep your brain active, such as crossword puzzles, word games and brain teasers. Developing daily routines and sticking with them can also help you avoid stressful situations that might cause a memory lapse, or "senior moment."

For those interested in learning more and gaining some new memory skills, Banner Alzheimer's Institute is offering a series of five-week "Memory Training Valleywide" classes for adults age 60-plus who don't have dementia. The course is $25 per person and registration is required. Call (602) 839-6850 or go online for course dates and locations at www.BannerAlz.org.

Vicki McAllister is an Ahwatukee Foothills resident and serves as a clinical research coordinator with Banner Alzheimer's Institute. Reach her at (602) 839-6928.

 

 

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