By DR. KAREN LATIMER
A recent study out of Duke University suggests teenage drinking may contribute to long term memory problems. Perhaps this explains the issues I've been having of late. Seems I am forgetting everything from where I parked my car to which children are mine. The cow is out of the barn on the teenage drinking - growing up in Queens, the legal age to buy may have been 21, but the bodegas sold to anyone who could ride a two-wheeler. I would love a do over in that department, but even if I got one, there are so many other factors affecting my memory.
Memory problems, when they are not the result of dementia, can be exacerbated by the following. If you are a parent, I am willing to bet you are experiencing the majority of these on a regular basis.
- Poor sleep/fatigue
- Alcohol intake/medications
- Depression/mood problems
- Having too many kids
What can you do about it? We naturally lose brain function as we age. Just as the body ages in other ways - we can't run as fast, we can't see as well, we can't jump without wetting our pants - the brain also ages, adversely affecting our memory. On top of this, pile on all the other causes listed above, and it is amazing most of us can get through the day.
You can fight back.
We are a society obsessed with exercising our bodies, but our minds need exercise as well. Here are things you can do to fight memory loss:
Those are the suggestions you might be able to follow. Of course, cutting down on alcohol, getting more sleep, saying no to more activities and having fewer kids would be ideal, but I'm a realist. You should know when memory loss signifies a real problem. For the most part though, small issues with memory are nothing to worry about. When you are feeling troubled by them, take stock of your life. How are you sleeping? How much stress are you under? How many hats are you wearing? Sometimes, just acknowledging the problem might be a side effect of a crazy, busy life, will reduce your anxiety about it. REMEMBER to be kind to yourself, and forgiving of your shortcomings. You are not alone. There was something else I wanted to add, but I can't think of it right now.