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“Memory Lane” is far, far away if you cannot remember where you’ve been during your previous years. Most assume that a decrease in memory and brain function is the inevitable passage of aging. Newer studies of centenarians suggest otherwise. Research shows that despite the presence of neurological issues associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), many centenarians maintained high levels of cognitive performance.

“Cognitive decline is not inevitable,” senior author Henne Holstege, PhD, assistant professor, Amsterdam Alzheimer Center and Clinical Genetics, Amsterdam University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, told Medscape Medical News.

“At 100 years or older, high levels of cognitive performance can be maintained for several years, even when individuals are exposed to risk factors associated with cognitive decline,” she said. This study was published online January 15 in JAMA Network Open.

We all need to follow the same path as Betty White, who said, “Don’t try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won’t live long enough to find out about, but I’m still curious about them. You know people who are already saying, ‘I’m going to be 30—oh, what am I going to do?’ Well, use that decade! Use them all!”

Defend Against Memory Decline

Currently there is zero treatment that can prevent or cure dementia, or any form of memory decline. But researchers have thankfully identified some factors that may help protect all of us from early cognitive decline.

One tried and true, the easiest method, is to practice some form of exercise which provides an impressive array of health benefits. Exercise helps prevent heart disease and type 2 diabetes; and can lower the risk for high blood pressure, colon cancer, and breast cancer. In addition, it possibly may help ward off cognitive decline and dementia.

Recent studies have shown that engaging in a program of regular exercise improved cognitive function in people who already had memory problems. Exercise has shown to benefit those who carry the APOE4 gene variant, which makes people more susceptible to Alzheimer’s.

Pay Attention to Your Diet

Research suggests a Mediterranean diet may:
1. Slow cognitive decline in older adults
2. Reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — a transitional stage between the cognitive decline of normal aging and the more-serious memory problems caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
3. Reduce the risk of MCI progressing into Alzheimer’s disease

This information provided by the Mayo Clinic. A Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, whole grains and fish. It offers many heart-healthy benefits and might also benefit your brain by slowing the progression to dementia in those who have the condition.

Sleep Times & Mental Stimulation

Good quality, consistent sleep is known to improve overall health and may possibly prevent cognitive decline. We rely on a certain amount of regular sleep for a variety of essential functions, some in the brain. In some studies, those who regularly sleep less than the recommended seven to eight hours a night score somewhat lower on tests of mental function. Learning and memories are consolidated during sleep.

It is best to engage in activities that require active mental stimulation, such as reading, writing, solving crossword puzzles, playing board or card games, engaging in group discussions, listening to music. Those who enjoyed interactive activities were half as likely to develop mild cognitive impairment.

That brings to mind social interactions, that have profound effects on your health and longevity. Evidence points to fact that social connections may be as important as physical activity and a healthy diet. Strong social interactions can help protect memory and cognitive function in several ways as you age. People with strong social ties are less likely to experience cognitive declines than those who are alone, and research backs up that claim. Depression and bouts of loneliness, can correlate to faster cognitive decline.

Social activities require engagement of important mental processes, including attention and memory, which bolsters cognition. It may also help strengthen cognitive reserve, delaying the onset of dementia. Cognitive performance is associated with factors of physical health and cognitive reserve. This ensures greater independence performing activities of daily living.

BP control is critical for the preservation of cognitive function, according to a study published in Hypertension. Researchers found that hypertension and prehypertension were associated with declines in various markers of cognitive function. This information was published in

At The Crossroads of Memory Lane

Commenting on a study for Medscape Medical News, Thomas Perls MD, MPH, professor of medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, called research on exceptional longevity in humans a “landmark” study. Perls, who is the author of an accompanying editorial, noted that “one cannot absolutely assume a certain level or disability or risk for disease just because a person has achieved extreme age — in fact, if anything, their ability to achieve much older ages likely indicates that they have resistance or resilience to aging-related problems.”

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“People have to be careful about ageist myths and attitudes and not have the ageist idea that the older you get, the sicker you get, because many individuals disprove that,” Perls cautioned.

Remember that, “It’s not how old you are. It’s how you are old.” ~ Jules Renard