Schneck Medical Center

SUM 2015

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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Page 23 of 31

2 4 SHUTTERSTOCK S P I R I T O F W O M E N S U M M E R 2 015 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m M E N T A L H E A L T H Dr. Julia Biernot, a neurologist specializing in dementia and memory disorders with OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Peoria, Ill., agrees that "there is increasing evidence that we can preserve memory longer by keeping the body healthy and the mind engaged and active." She cites a recently published study from Finland that compared two groups of people over 60. The group that became very regimented about diet—limiting sugar, salt and fat consumption and increasing intake of fruits, vegetables and fish—and participated in an exercise program and computer-based cognitive training programs performed better in overall brain function than the group that led a relatively healthy lifestyle but was not as regimented. Exercise in particular can be an important component in retaining memory function, say many experts. "I preach exercise to help memory," says Dr. David Simpson, medical director of Swank Memory Care Center at Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del. "I tell my patients day in and day out to do 45 minutes of moderate exercise at least three times a week, and I also try to get them to walk 30 to 35 minutes a day if they can." MIND GAMES To keep your mind engaged too, Dr. Simpson recommends "puzzles or card games or even online memory games like Luminosity. It's also really, really important to stay social, to get out with friends and family or to senior centers, and not to worry," he adds. Being highly stressed, Dr. Simpson says, "taxes you physically and mentally. If you can reduce that stress, it will help with memory and overall physical well-being." Dr. Biernot notes that sleep quality is also important. Sleep is necessary in consolidating memories, so interrupted sleep can be bad for the brain. Treating issues like obstructive sleep apnea, for example, can help improve memory, she says. (continued from page 23) LEARNING NEW TRICKS Although learning new information may take longer as you age, "once something is learned, it is retained equally well in all age groups," says Dr. Vaishali Saini, a neurologist who is affiliated with Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colo. In fact, the learning process itself can be valuable. "Longer formal education is linked with mental sharpness in the elderly population," according to Dr. Saini, "possibly because it helps create a habit of continued learning. Memory is like muscle strength in that if you keep exercising it, it gets stronger. If you don't use it, you lose it." • BOOST your memory by • Eating a healthy diet • Not smoking • Keeping your brain active • Socializing regularly • Exercising moderately • Getting a good night's sleep Try these no-stress tactics for giving your brain a helping hand: • Hang a household calendar on your kitchen wall, mark down everyone's schedules, and make it your frst stop in the morning. • Place a box or basket in a convenient place to hold the household objects that you tend to misplace most often—keys, cellphones, glasses. • Take advantage of smartphone apps and set alarms to remind yourself when tasks need to be done. • Use timed medication containers to organize your daily medications. • Write a to-do list for the next day each night before you go to bed. Making memories

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