Living with memory loss

There are countless books and published research studies about dementia that give us insight into the

Members of the U-M Elderberry Club have mild memory loss, but that doesn't stop them from having fun, caring for each other and being creative.

Members of the U-M Elderberry Club have mild memory loss, but that doesn’t stop them from having fun, caring for each other and being creative.

disease. However, the best resource cannot be found on a shelf or an online article, but rather in the conversations we have with those who are living with dementia.

I recently visited the Elderberry Club—the first group of its kind in Michigan and the only group in the country that is designed exclusively for women with mild memory loss. The club meets at the U-M Health System Turner Senior Resource Center once a week. The women come together for support, discussion, friendship, creative expression and education.

During meetings, the women participate in a number of activities. They create art, volunteer in the community, write poetry, listen to music or presentations, and much more. The day I visited, the women were creating beautiful marbled ink artwork using the ancient Japanese technique called suminagash. Joy and laughter filled the room. Their personalities were vibrant and unique, and I could tell that they accepted and loved each other.  Continue reading

5 Ways to Protect Your Memory

Many middle-aged adults are concerned about developing memory loss later in life. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent memory loss, researchers are finding out more and more about how the brain works and how to keep it healthy. Here are five important steps you can take to maintain a healthy brain:

It's important to interact with others.

People are good for our brain.

  1. Eat right

Choose vegetables, fish, eggs, legumes (lentils, beans), nuts, olive oil and fruits. Limit red meat, alcohol and sugar. Avoid processed and packaged food as much as possible. A healthful diet will also reduce the risk for diabetes, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Exercise

We can’t stress enough the importance of all types of exercise. If you haven’t exercised for a while, start by walking. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. Talk with your doctor before you pursue any formal exercise program.  Continue reading

Mild memory & thinking issues: What works, what doesn’t?

U-M experts weigh the evidence to help doctors & patients navigate mild cognitive impairment

memory finger string blogFor up to one in five Americans over age 65, getting older brings memory and thinking problems– along with the embarrassment of not being as “sharp” as they once were, and the worry that it will get much worse.

They might just call it “getting older”. But officially, when memory or cognitive problems don’t interfere significantly with daily living, doctors call them mild cognitive impairment, or MCI.

What can be done to prevent or slow MCI? And how much should seniors fear that their thinking or memory problems will get much worse?

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Turkey… with a side of memory loss?

If older relatives at holiday gatherings show early signs of dementia, new research shows the importance of steering them to testing

Thanksgiving memoryAs you gather for Thanksgiving and winter holidays, you might notice that Grandma, Aunt Betty or Uncle Sal seems to struggle more with memory, or thinking, than she or he did last year.

Rather than chalk it up to normal aging, new U-M research suggests you might want to gently suggest they get it checked out by their doctor.

In fact, as many as half of seniors who have these symptoms have never had it checked out fully, new research finds. Dr. Vikas Kotagal, a U-M neurologist who led the new study, says families should encourage seniors with even early signs of memory loss to talk to their doctor.

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Detour Ahead: Your Journey road sign for dementia or memory loss

DetourLife is a journey. The Detour Ahead road sign acknowledges that dementia or memory loss significantly alters a person’s journey through life. Other road sign tips for living with memory loss will be introduced over the next few months.

Just as detours are not a normal, expected part of your daily commute or family road trip, dementia is not a normal part of aging. As you age, a few changes can be expected such as:

  • Increase in forgetfulness. The older we are, the more we have learned and have to remember.  It is normal to become more forgetful after age 50.
  • Slowing of response times
  • Decline in vision and hearing abilities
  • Increased cautiousness

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