Many of us take forgetfulness as an expected side effect of aging. Forgetting the name of a coworker or a restaurant you enjoyed last year gets chalked up to part of growing old. And it’s not fun. But researchers are finding that fighting Alzheimer’s is possible.

If you go back to your high school anatomy class (we all remember that, right?), we learned about parts of the brain. The hippocampus, or hippocampi because there are two, is responsible for short-term memory and long-term memory storage. So, the size of the hippocampi is important. As Mike Zimmerman reports in his article in Prevention Magazine, “The smaller your hippocampi, the more vulnerable you are to the ravages of dementia.”

Why do the hippocampi shrink? Over time, proteins destroy brain tissue. The hippocampi are targeted first, which explains why memory loss is the first casualty of Alzheimer’s. Zimmerman adds, “The hippocampi shrink as we age—about 0.5% per year beginning sometime after 50.”

So here’s the good news for fighting Alzheimer’s. Majid Fotuhi, a Harvard-trained neurologist, has studied the impact of “brain fitness” activities and restoring the hippocampi. Fotuhi says, “While the hippocampi may shrink (and already have for most of Fotuhi’s patients), they can also expand quite easily.” Stimulating the brain through memory games, puzzles, and other “brain games” is a way to rebuild lost brain tissue.

The Alzheimer’s Association also reports that a two-year clinical trial of older adults at risk for cognitive impairment showed that a combination of physical activity, nutritional guidance, cognitive training, social activities and management of heart health risk factors slowed cognitive decline.

Other resources:

Select Home Care Pasadena specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care at home. Please call 888-990-7353 or visit our Web site for a free in-home assessment.