The best protection against memory loss is to exercise the brain’s memory mechanisms. Unfortunately, the failure to actively flex one’s memory “muscles” can result in atrophy. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. NY: Harmony Books, 2001, pp 52-53)
Activities that stimulate the senses and reminiscence engage multiple parts of the brain. This can help strengthen the mind and retard memory loss. (Einberger, Kirstin, and Sellick Janelle, MS. Strengthen Your Mind. MD: Health Professions Press, 2007, all)
When older people can no longer remember names at a party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is erroneous. Instead, the research finds, the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit. The studies are analyzed in a new edition of a neurology book, Progress in Brain Research. (Progress in Brain Research, Summary)
A study of the brains of people who stayed mentally sharp into their 80s and beyond challenges the notion that brain changes linked to mental decline and Alzheimer's disease are a normal, inevitable part of aging. In a presentation at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS 2010), Changiz Geula, Ph.D., described the first study of its kind involving elderly people with super-sharp memories. He said, “Environment, lifestyle, and genetics may be key factors. For example, some super-aged individuals might have a genetic predisposition to being super-aged, while others may help preserve high brain function by maintaining a healthy diet or staying physically active. Others may keep mental decline at bay by keeping the brain itself active: By reading books, playing crossword puzzles, or engaging in other mentally demanding activities.” (Source)
Refer to Memory and the Brain for additional information.