Memory and Aging

Many worry about the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and normal aging. Dr. Rudolph Tanziof Harvard University simplifies the difference by giving an example of what is normal memory loss and what could be Alzheimer’s. Normal memory loss is when you forget where you put your car keys. Alzheimer’s is when you forget what car keys are for.  As our bodies and mind age, changes occur on a physical level. Researchers are finding that we do not lose brain cells but we do lose the synapses or the “telephone wires” connecting the cells together. A new Yale study shows that stress can reduce brain volume and function, even in otherwise healthy individuals. Researchers from the Yale Stress Center analyzed the effect of experiencing stressful life events. The study, published Jan. 5, 2012, in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry, concluded that stress can decrease the amount of gray matter in the brain and make it more difficult for people to manage stressful situations in the future. The good news is that we can keep the synapses working and maybe even create new ones even as the brain ages. I am sure we have all heard the saying, “I just don’t remember like I used to!” Both researchers and doctors agree that these six activities will help with memory retention and reduce the effects of aging on the brain.


  • Reduce Stress

Find out what causes you stress and get rid of it. Let’s be honest, sometimes you can’t always get rid of what is giving you stress. In those situations, find ways to relieve the stress. Breathing exercises have been found to reduce stress and bring focus to situations that are in front of you.

  • Exercise

Exercise does the body good! And the brain too! The endorphins that are released when exercise is performed are the body’s natural happy drug. In addition to the endorphins, the increase of breathing during exercise brings more oxygen to the brain and may help with preserving the synapses.

  • Be Social

Social activities and interaction have found to increase brain function. Social media such as Facebook can help us to reconnect with long lost friends and keep in touch with friends and family that live out of town. Although social media is great, personal interaction is still necessary. Multiple studies have cited that being social is not only good for brain function but also cardiovascular function as well.

  • Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep when you need it. Take a catnap or a siesta if you need it. Sleep rejuvenates the body, replenishes energy and reduces stress. All are helpful with brain development and maintenance.

  • Find a Hobby

Do what you love to do and makes you happy. As we age, we may need to adapt the activities we loved to do. Through technology many hobbies can be adapted enabling everybody to enjoy the fun. Where there is a will, there is a way!

  • Keep your Brain Active

Crossword puzzles and Soduko puzzles keep you thinking and your brain active. Many older adults are returning to college to learn new skills and to keep their brains actively learning. Researchers have found that the synapses that are in the brain can be preserved by use and possibly even creating new ones.



“Aging is not a mild form of dementia,” says cellular neurobiologist John Morrison, who specializes in aging. We all forget at some point where we put the keys to the car, or even where we parked the car!

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