More than a decade ago, I watched my grandparents go through the late stages of dementia.
Watching two people I love change so dramatically before my eyes is something I'll never forget.
I try to lead a healthy lifestyle, but what's so scary about these memory conditions is it seems like they can strike anyone.
Lately, I've been looking for answers, trying to learn if there's a proven way to stop or slow down conditions like dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Tragically, treatments and "cures" for memory conditions are still a work in progress. And while some research is promising, the results for average people are years away.
Thankfully, doctors can say with some certainty that these three things will slow down the effects of dementia and Alzheimer's.
Don't imagine you need to hit the gym, or look like a pro athlete to keep dementia at bay.
Research shows that even gentle, aerobic exercise - like walking for 30 minutes a day - does wonders for your brain.
Exercise increases blood flow, which sharpens your thinking skills. But it also releases chemical that slow down the brain's aging process.
If you're already getting a little exercise, going just a bit further, faster, or longer will pay off years from now.
But be sure to also use the next two techniques to fight memory conditions.
2. Lower your blood pressure
While blood flow from exercise keeps your mind feeling young, high blood pressure will damage your brain.
This chronic condition adds to the buildup of plaque and blood vessel damage responsible for the most dreaded memory conditions.
Even without blood pressure medication, there are a number of easy ways to keep your numbers in the healthy zone.
Do get regular exercise, eat healthy (with lots of potassium and fruit), and get your stress under control.
Don't eat lots of salty food, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or over-indulge on caffeine.
3. Train your brain
Memory training is one of the most controversial ways to ward off Alzheimer's and dementia, and doctors are split over its health benefits.
Most agree that games like Sudoku and crossword puzzles won't protect your brain as you age.
Instead, you need to train your mind with practical, everyday tasks.
Don't write down a list of errands, force yourself to remember them. Train yourself to remember a local restaurant's phone number.
Actually teaching your brain with these exercises slows memory loss by strengthening every part of your mind.
Pop quiz: what was the first item on this list? Don't flip back to the last page, try and remember!
Share these tips with a loved one, and let's all keep our brains sharp!