Aging and Depression and Memory
Aging > Aging and Depression
Depression often occurs during the aging process but doesn’t always have to be. Many times people will believe that they are depressed because they are aging but most often depression is just a symptom of some other physical or emotional problem. Many times depression and aging aren’t recognized by seniors or by the medical profession.
If you are a senior, and are experiencing what you think is depression due to the aging process, you need to ask yourself a few questions. Do you feel empty inside, or worthless and guilty? Do you often feel more tired and irritable than you normally do? Do you feel as though no one loves you? The answers to these questions will determine if you are experiencing any sort of depression and you should talk to your doctor about your feelings, no matter how unimportant you think your situation is. Many times the aging process will leave you feeling as though you have nothing left to live for. Aging changes the entire way that your body and mind deal with emotions that you might otherwise brush off as being a bad day. Aging is a process that happens to all of is but that most often happens before we expect it to happen.
As you find yourself aging it is important to be gentle with yourself yet at the same time you need to be honest with yourself about how you feel about growing older. For many people aging means losing their independence and having to rely on the help of others more and more. Although the aging process is something we all wish that we could avoid it remains a very real part of everyone’s life and needs to be addressed both by the individual and their family. The more aware you are of the possibility of feeling some type of depression while you are aging the more prepared you can be to do something about it when you start feeling that way. The important thing to remember is that feeling some sadness about aging is perfectly natural. It’s how you handle this sadness that is important.
Aging and Memory
Aging and memory loss are often linked together. However, even though it may sometimes take you longer to remember something or you may forget where you have put something, memory loss doesn’t have to be a part of the aging process. You have the ability to stay as mentally alert and active as you want; it may just take a bit of work to maintain a sharp memory while aging.
Aging brings about many changes when it comes to the way your memory works. These are normal changes and in no way an indication that your memory isn’t working the way that it used to. It just means that you have to be aware of these memory changes and take the time and effort to stay clear and calm. Some of the normal changes to your memory while you are aging include (1) Time. You will often need to take more time to remember something. Keep in mind that as you remember something your memory needs to pull that something from either your short term or your long-term memory storage. (2) Effort. You may have to put more effort into remembering names, places, or events that have occurred in the past. (3) Concentration. As the aging process continues you need to keep in mind that you will have some trouble focusing on more than one thing at a time.
Many times it isn’t just the aging process that is a part of memory problems. If you are experiencing some difficulty with your memory you need to take a look at any emotional or environmental issues that are occurring in your life. If you have recently retired or have lost a loved one you will be going through some intense emotional issues that need to be addressed. Remember that significant changes in your life take time to get used to and may be accompanied with memory difficulties. Other memory problems may be due to any medical conditions that occur during the aging process. Consult your doctor if you are experiencing other medical changes other than memory difficulties.
Aging and Memory: Staying Sharp
It is normal to expect some memory loss with aging. You can protect your memory now before you begin to notice significant loss.
Most of us have misplaced our keys at one time or another. With aging, memory loss takes on different features. Some of these include short-term memory lapses. Generally speaking, we hold onto long-term memory better. Another feature of memory loss with aging includes difficulty with recall. For example, you may not remember the name of someone you have not seen recently or it may take longer to find the word you are looking for.
Although research is ongoing and there is still a great deal to learn, researchers have some ideas about how and why memory is affected with aging. One explanation is simply volume. Like a computer with many files and folders, brains collect and store a great deal of information over the accumulation of years. When we attempt to retrieve this information the brain must perform a search through files of significant size, if you will. As you know from your experience with computers, this process often takes time as file size increases. We have all had the experience of recalling a name or word long after it was needed.
Memory loss happens gradually and can affect people long before they think of themselves as aging. If you are experiencing mild or moderate memory loss, don’t despair. Researchers have learned that the brain can rewire itself throughout life. Apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks.
If you are looking for a way to give your brain a boost, and keep your memory sharp with aging, read on for some suggestions:
Particularly if you are concerned about Alzheimer’s disease you will want to consider including avocados, niacin-rich foods (vitamin B3), omega-3-enriched eggs, peas, beans and fish in your diet. The benefits of this diet are the antioxidant levels it includes. Low antioxidant levels have been shown to contribute to the severity of Alzheimer’s disease
Keep moving. The overall health benefits are unarguable. The added benefit of exercise is its impact on brain health, circulation and blood pressure.
We have all heard the expression use it or lose it. It takes on more significance with aging. More memory can be retained with aging when we use our brains. Learn something new such as a language or skill. Take a class or do crossword puzzles. Read or write a good book.
Stress can affect memory even when aging is not a factor. It is not realistic to expect that you won’t experience any stress. The key is in how you handle your stress. If you are feeling stressed, be honest about what you can control and understand that you cannot do anything about the things you cannot control. Experiment to find the stress reduction technique that works for you. Some examples include exercise, yoga, journaling, hiking, massage and spending time with friends.
Some memory loss is an unavoidable fact of living and aging. Practice good mental and physical health care to minimize memory loss. When all else fails, it is okay to write it down.