Although there is currently no treatment for memory loss, research has shown that being active and making other healthy lifestyle choices benefits cognitive health by helping to prevent or slow mild cognitive impairment.
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NYU Langone doctors can recommend several steps to people experiencing memory loss that may positively affect mild cognitive impairment.
Regular aerobic exercise may help in preventing or slowing cognitive decline. Studies show that exercise is linked to better mental functioning in older adults, even in those with mild cognitive impairment. Exercise can boost mood, reduce stress, and lessen other risk factors, such as heart disease, that contribute to cognitive decline.
Exercise is also known to lower blood pressure. People with mild cognitive impairment are more likely to have problems with blood vessels in the brain. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can worsen these problems and cause memory difficulties.
There is no precise amount of exercise required for good mental health, but research suggests that the exercise should be regular and require a modest level of exertion. Walking, swimming, and gardening are good ways to stay active as you age.
Eating foods that enhance your heart health—such as fish, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and fresh produce—can also protect your cognitive health. This type of diet may also help to keep your weight down while lowering your risk for heart disease.
Drinking too much alcohol can cause forgetfulness or confusion. It can also worsen conditions such as osteoporosis, diabetes, and high blood pressure. For this reason, our doctors recommend cutting back on drinking or quitting entirely if you are experiencing symptoms of memory loss.
Studies show that frequent social interactions can heighten cognitive function in aging people. Engaging in mentally stimulating activities—such as reading, playing games, playing a musical instrument, or learning anything new—can help to exercise your mind and possibly prevent memory loss.
The nicotine in tobacco has been shown to damage the blood vessels and heart, thereby reducing the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain and affecting memory. Our doctors and therapists understand that quitting is not easy. NYU Langone’s Tobacco Cessation Programs can help you stop smoking for good.
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