Forgetfulness: A Cause for Concern?
As we get older, our bodies and brains change. One common symptom of aging is forgetfulness. In other words, aging individuals tend to have some degree of memory loss. This is due to the natural aging process whereby our brain functions different than how it used to when we are young. This is normal and mild forgetfulness is not a concern. But how can we distinguish between normal changes in cognitive functioning because of aging and cognitive decline due to a disorder like Alzheimer’s? In this blog, we will go over what forgetfulness and memory problems look like for both situations.
According to Cleveland Clinic, aging impacts the ability to learn new information and to recall new information. This means that older individuals are more likely to forget newly learned information as opposed to their younger counterparts. However, certain aspects of memory are usually preserved, like remembering events from a long time ago, the ability to perform tasks, and general knowledge. Other common yet harmless effects of aging on memory may include more “tip of the tongue” phenomena, like trying to find the right words in conversation or remembering someone’s name. Additionally, information processing speed might slow, as well. These changes in memory are common and relatively universal effects of aging. There are, however, changes in cognition that are not normal.
In general, memory problems that negatively impact daily life and quality of life are deemed concerning. Conditions like mild cognitive impairment and degenerative neurological disorders can impact memory. This type of memory loss might include:
- Forgetting about recent situations
- Repeating the same story
- Decreased ability to recall words
- Is distracted easily
- Losing track of the date
- Difficulty having conversations
- Misplacing items and having trouble locating them afterwards
- Forgetting people and family members
- Decreased ability to perform daily tasks
The moment you notice a loved one experiencing memory loss that begins to interfere with daily life, then this should be a cause for concern, and you should help them visit their health care provider.
Not all memory loss is bad and you can receive medical advice to distinguish between the normal impacts of aging versus the negative impacts of an underlying condition. Additionally, medical research supports certain activities that are useful for brain health. These include:
- Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, regardless of age
- Avoid smoking cigarettes
- Eat a healthy diet, like the Mediterranean diet and DASH diets
- Reduce Stress
- Pursue happiness and a positive outlook (Consider seeing a mental health counselor to help overcome distress from depression or anxiety)
- Exercise your brain by doing complex tasks, learning something new, or doing puzzles
If you have any questions, then please contact ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.