Memory Loss With Aging: What’s Normal, What’s Not

In Health on October 1, 2011 at 3:01 am

What about when you know a word but can’t recall it? This is usually just a glitch in your memory. You’ll almost always remember the word with time. This may become more common as you age. It can be very frustrating, but it’s not usually serious.

Things to help you remember:
•Keep lists.
•Follow a routine.
•Make associations (connect things in your mind), such as using landmarks to help you find places.
•Keep a detailed calendar.
•Put important items, such as your keys, in the same place every time.
•Repeat names when you meet new people.
•Do things that keep your mind and body busy.
•Run through the ABC’s in your head to help you think of words you’re having trouble remembering. “Hearing” the first letter of a word may jog your memory.

Some other causes of memory problems include depression, dementia (severe problems with memory and thinking, such as Alzheimer’s disease), side effects of drugs, strokes, head injury and alcoholism. Alzheimer’s disease starts by changing the recent memory. At first, a person who has Alzheimer’s disease will remember even small details of his or her distant past but not be able to remember recent events or conversations. Over time, the disease affects all parts of the memory.

You can tell if memory problems are serious when it affects your daily living. If you sometimes forget names, you’re probably okay. But you may have a more serious problem if you have trouble remembering how to do things you’ve done many times before, get to a place you’ve been to often, or do things that require steps (such as following a recipe). Another difference between normal memory problems and dementia is that normal memory loss doesn’t get much worse over time. Dementia gets much worse over several months to several years.

Memory problems that aren’t part of normal aging:
•Forgetting things much more often than you used to
•Forgetting how to do things you’ve done many times before
•Trouble learning new things
•Repeating phrases or stories in the same conversation
•Trouble making choices or handling money
•Not being able to keep track of what happens each day

It may be hard to figure out on your own if you have a serious problem. Talk to your family doctor about any concerns you have. If your memory problems are caused by a certain medicine you’re taking, your doctor can prescribe another medicine that doesn’t have this side effect. If another condition is causing your memory loss (such as depression), your doctor can help you treat the condition.

New studies show links between a lack of vitiman B12 and memory loss as low vitiman B12 may speed brain cell loss. We will keep you informed as these studies progress.

Our Thanks to The Family Doctor

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