Do you have difficulty remembering where your car keys are? Can’t remember that last item on the grocery list? Don’t worry – you are not alone. People often come to me with complaints about their memory. The good news is that the majority of time these are normal memory issues associated with aging. Even better – there are things you can do about it! But, we’ll get to that in a minute…
There are many causes of memory difficulty, including depression, vitamin deficiencies, alcohol use and medication side effects (antihistamines, antidepressants, and antipsychotics). In addition, poor control of medical conditions such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and COPD may also affect your memory. Only about 34% of patients have actual cognitive impairment, or early stages of dementia.
If you have concerns about your memory, you should talk to your primary care provider about it. They may screen you for depression, order lab tests and test your memory.
In the meantime, if you find that you have a hard time with remembering things, try these simple tips.
- Give yourself reminders. For some, verbal reminders, such as saying aloud where you’re putting the car keys, will work best. Others are more visual people, and will be best served by taking a mental picture of where you are placing the keys down. Writing things down will work for both groups. The use of a diary has been shown to improve memory function. Jotting down quick notes can be a very effective tool.
- The next thing is to get involved in social activities. Loneliness is a big risk factor for memory issues. Older people who engage in social activities (volunteering, interest groups, etc) have been shown to score better on cognitive function tests. Exercising can also improve your memory!
- Finally, spend some time playing games. Computer games, Sudoku, and crossword puzzles all challenge the brain. One hour per day, five days per week is all you need to reap the benefits.
Source: ACP Internist, January 2013
About Dr. Susan Szulc
Susan V. Szulc, MD, is a board-certified internist with Bon Secours Medical Associates at Virginia Beach. She received her bachelor of science in microbiology from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla. Dr. Szulc earned her medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, Va., where she also completed a residency in internal medicine. Dr. Szulc is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. She is a member of the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians and American Medical Women’s Association. Dr. Szulc’s special interests include palliative care and hypertension.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Szulc please call (757) 305-1797!