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Can’t find your keys?…….. are you losing your memory as well?

By October 22, 2009March 27th, 2024No Comments

How many times does it happen that we lose our keys?First of all you realise they are not in the place they normally are, and then (as it usually seems to occur when you in a hurry to get to an appointment or something) you rummage quickly through the other “likely” places where they often get put down.

Not there either?
OK, now it’s time to go backwards using your memory. When do you know you definitely last had them and what did you do after that ?
This process will then hopefully lead to where the missing keys were inadvertently put.

Not an uncommon scenario in many households.
But is forgetting where we put down our keys or forgetting people’s names or trying to think why we have walked into the garage to look for something, a sign of something more sinister happening?

Could you be showing early cognitive impairment which could lead to Alzheimer’s disease?

We are in a rapidly ageing population where sadly the reality is, that for those of us now enjoying a longer lifespan, 10% of us will have dementia by the age of 65 years of age and 40-45% of us by the time we are 85 years old.
Seeing as we are now expected to live to between 79 and 85 years on average, that is a pretty scary scenario. So, if we live to our full lifespan, we have nearly a 50% chance of having dementia.

Some Health Organisations are now predicting that by 2040, neurodegenerative diseases will account for more deaths than cancer.

The good news is that losing your keys does not necessarily imply a neurodegenerative problem on it’s own.
We are also now learning more and more about the brain’s amazing capacity to maintain itself and allow us to continue to learn and retain new memories throughout our lives.
Cognitive Reserve is a term that relates to our brain’s ability to preserve itself against neuronal loss and loss of function.
Some of the things we now know in regard to this include brain size, number of neurons, the level of education achieved and the amount of continued learning, our lifestyle and the effect of stress.

In a nutshell: the larger our brain the greater we are protected from dementia. The number of neurons we have working will also influence how we continue to function. Studies have shown that people who have obtained a higher level of education and those who are life long learners are afforded a certain level of protection.
How we live in terms of lifestyle, diet, exercise, smoking and drinking plays an important role in maintaining cognitive reserve as does avoiding stress.

Stress kills brain cells!
So, the next time you can’t find your keys, don’t stress. Because you want to keep those neurons working to help you find them the next time it happens.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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