Aging And Memory Loss – Who Doesn’t Worry?

Few things strike fear in the heart of us baby boomers as much as the idea of losing our memory and hence, our minds.

Have you had personal contact with an aging parent, friend or relative with memory loss?  Most of us have.  Watching those we care about suffer with either dementia or Alzheimer’s is heart-wrenching.

We watch and standby helplessly as they lose sense of “self.” My father suffered with dementia for the final three years of his life.  It was excruciating to watch this lovely man who looked like my dad, sounded like my dad, but that dad I knew and loved was gone.

He rarely remembered his kids’ names or which brothers were alive, or even whether he still was employed.  He had retired years earlier yet frequently began the day saying “I have to get ready to go to work now.”

So protection of our brains and prevention of horrific memory-robbing conditions like dementia is of prime importance to me and to my baby boomer friends and readers.

The good news is there’s a lot you can do to prevent your brain from deteriorating.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed a significantly lower risk for both Alzheimer’s and for cognitive decline in general for those following a Mediterranean diet.

While there’s some confusion about what constitutes a Mediterranean diet, everyone agrees that it contains a lot of fish, lots of fruits and vegetables, less sugar, lots of omega-3’s and omega-9’s (fish oil, flax, olive oil, walnuts), lots of nuts and not too much red meat (though I suspect it’s not the red meat that’s the problem but the red meat from factory farmed, feedlot animals; in my view, grass-fed meat gets a pass.)

Besides diet, there’s also physical activity.

In one study of 1,880 elderly folks of both sexes, Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD and his research team found that greater physical activity was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Throw in adherence to a Mediterranean diet and those in the top third (most exercise, most adherences to Mediterranean principles of eating) and you’re looking at a whopping 40% reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s.

There’s not a drug on earth that can do that.