Impact of Lifestyle on Memory

Family Caregiving September 23, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

If you are a caregiver and the person to whom you are providing care exhibits memory difficulties, treat those memory problems as a flashing yellow light. However, do not automatically assume Alzheimer's disease (one form of dementia) is the likely diagnosis. Memory loss and dementia may have other causes such as infections, head injuries, and alcoholism. When memory difficulties occur, always consider lifestyle a possible factor.

An older adult’s memory challenges may be tied to his or her lifestyle or everyday activities.

Memory abilities are enhanced by:

  • eating a colorful, nutrient-dense diet
  • getting a good night’s sleep
  • choosing to do adequate daily physical activity and exercise
  • not smoking
  • managing one's use of alcohol
  • finding opportunities for mental stimulation
  • making social connections.

Medications can negatively affect memory. Get advice from your pharmacist about the possible effects of certain prescription medications on memory. The ones most likely to pose difficulties are sleeping pills, anti- anxiety medications, allergy medications, pain medications, and anti-depressants.

For additional information, visit the Mastery of Aging Well learning lesson Memory Difficulties - Should I Be Worried?

Click One of the Links Below to Access More Lessons in the Mastery of Aging Well Series


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.