What was I talking about?

By Kathryn Mayer

I always say to myself that I’m going to keep a journal so that I can look back on what happened to me and you know, remember stuff. But I keep forgetting to start.

I’m not yet 30 and I have trouble remembering way too much. Seriously, the other day I thought my car was stolen while I was at the store because I couldn’t for the life of me understand why it wasn’t in the (imaginary) spot I left it in.

Especially during periods of stress, I’ll often shampoo and condition my hair up to five times each morning because I can’t remember if I did it.

The good news, though, is this bad brain of mine is giving me a better excuse to adapt — I mean, continue — dementia. The number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple in the next 40 years, to 13.8 million in 2050, up from 4.7 million in 2010.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t get as much attention as it should. Earlier this year, researchers said the new projections about Alzheimer’s rapid rate of growth draw attention to an “urgent need” for more research, treatments and preventive strategies to reduce the impact of the epidemic.

There’s no known cure for these problems, but if basic behaviors can help our memory, it shouldn’t be a question of when to begin.

Previous research has shown that healthy behaviors have been associated with a lower risk of these problems, but this new information sheds light on how it affects younger folks, too.

In the survey, memory issues were reported from 26 percent of the older adults and 22 percent of the middle-aged adults. More surprising, researchers note, was the 14 percent of the young people in our study had memory complaints.

Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center and a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, said that behaviors don’t “have to be daunting to get people on the right track.”

“And once [people] get started, they begin to notice those immediate improvements in memory, which motivates them to continue until these behaviors become habits over the long haul,” he said.

Other small behaviors, too — such as too much stress and technology use (texting and the Internet) can have an adverse effect on memory and brain health — researchers said.

My new plan will include more exercise, better eating, less frequent texting (which I'm sure my friends will love), and less stress and Internet use (which my employer is bound to appreciate).

Now if only I can remember all that.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com