Look for hours in your handbag pockets and then find out that the keys to your car were on the table, you don’t remember if you closed the gas, or have a word on the tip of your tongue and can’t remember it. Sometimes we don’t remember even the simplest and most everyday things. These are common situations many people experience almost daily. But are they concerning symptoms? We talked about this topic with Professor Alberto Albanese, Head of Neurology at Humanitas.
The risks of developing dementia
In a stressful life like modern life, where we are always required to be hyper-performing and where we are constantly bombarded by communication and too much information, our ability to remember can weaken. “Memory is compartmentalized and we are called each time to re-focus our attention on different things and we don’t always succeed in being so quick to focus and remember everything. This, to some extent, is normal – reassured Professor Albanese. In principle, there are forms of early dementia, which present for example disorders such as difficulty in orientation in known places, difficulty in recognizing people or remembering things that are very customary: this may be worrying, but they are rare and often genetic.
The trivial memory problems are therefore not worrying in themselves, especially as this faculty can be exercised, either through exercises (such as crosswords or learning and repeating poems, for example), or learning to focus attention, focusing well on what you do and try to shift attention. “Lifestyle, quality of nutrition and physical activity also count,” he added. It has been shown that a lifestyle improves the expectations of our cognitive functions.
Many “forgetful people” fear that there is a real correlation between having memory problems in young years and developing diseases such as dementia or cognitive impairment in old age. Instead, forgetting where you put your stuff, even those you use most frequently, does not necessarily imply the development of dementia in old age. In any case, it is recommended to embrace prevention. Vascular dementia, the cause of which is atherosclerosis, involves the prevention of cardiac infarction and thus maintaining heart health.
Nine exercises to train the brain to remember
Here are some tips for keeping your memory in training:
- Keep your mind active (do logic exercises, study a foreign language, play an instrument, etc.).
- Control blood pressure at levels lower than 120/80 mmHg
- Check the values of total cholesterol avoiding exceeding the threshold of 200 mg/dL.
- Control fasting blood glucose, with values within 100 mg/dL
- Do not smoke
- Follow a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, olive oil.
- Avoid excess weight and maintain a body mass index of less than 25 kg/m2.
- Practice aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, cycling) for at least 30 minutes per day.
- Ensure a sufficient and quality night’s rest. Sleeping well, at least 8 hours a night also helps to improve memory and concentration.