Winning the Memory Game

Memory loss over time is natural, but researchers have found that you can take action now to build a better brain. Here are ways to offset some of the cognitive decline as you age, as well as new research into memory’s most vigilant foe, Alzheimer’s.

Most of us have done it. We climbed to the second floor of our house, for example, and paused on the landing to wonder why we’d made the journey. Had we come to fetch the phone charger? To collect towels for the washer? As we stand there casting about for a reason, we might also wonder: Is this just a normal hiccup in memory or could it be something more?

Memory loss and difficulty with recall are natural consequences of aging. They can start as early as our 30s and make simple tasks, like remembering a word or a person’s name, take a little longer. While normal, these lapses of recall can be scary. We wonder if it portends something more serious.

In fact, surveys have shown that more people are afraid of losing their memory through Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia than they are of dying from cancer, according to Constantine Lyketsos, director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center. “What makes us people are those higher functions [like memory],” he says. “It cuts close to the bone to think we are going to lose our personhood by losing those very unique capacities.”

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