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One in eight adults over 60 experience memory loss, CDC says

May 13, 2013

Memory problems can be a serious obstacle for healthy aging, and a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that a surprising amount of adults 60 and older experience issues with memory loss. Researchers determined that approximately one in eight people in that age group reports increasing memory loss, and many times it interferes with their day-to-day life.

A growing problem
The findings are based on an extensive survey of more than 59,000 people in 21 different states. The CDC determined that approximately one-third of people with memory loss said their issues interfered with things like work and social activities. Despite these challenges, only about 35 percent of those with memory loss brought up the problems with their doctors. Experts say the findings should signal the importance of addressing cognitive health in older adults.

"Some say, 'Oh, it's just a normal part of aging.' It's not," Matthew Baumgart, senior director of public policy for the Alzheimer's Association, told NBC News. "When one in eight Americans 60-plus says they are having memory problems, then we continue to have a problem and things are not going to get better for the foreseeable future."

Proactive approach may help
While there is no treatment that can reverse Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, the best course of action to slow or stave off the effects of the conditions is to be proactive. A healthy lifestyle for seniors includes many options that have been shown to offer some protection against cognitive decline. In fact, a growing amount of research suggests that a higher level of physical activity is tied to a lower risk of developing dementia and other mental health issues. Some of the most compelling evidence comes from the Mayo Clinic, where a 2010 study found that moderate-intensity physical activity was tied to a lower risk of mild cognitive impairment. 

Diet may play a role
Exercise is not the only way to stem the tide of dementia, experts say that what you eat could also have an impact. Walnuts have proven to be particularly healthy for your brain, according to The Huffington Post. Their benefits come largely from the presence of omega-3 oil, which is tied to a reduced risk of inflammation - often cited as one of the biggest risk factors for cognitive decline.