They’re quips we hear often enough—when a companion forgets a well-known name, for instance, or when you’ve forgotten where you left your keys: “I’m having a senior moment,” or, “My Alzheimer’s is setting in!” The lapse in memory in itself may be disquieting—no one likes to forget things, after all—but while jests of this nature can be rooted in truth, memory loss ranges from what’s perfectly normal to an underlying condition that may indicate a more serious concern.
Over the past several years, scientists have come to more fully understand which types of memory loss are normal and which may be a warning bell. Age plays a normal role in contributing to memory loss. As we age, the body changes, including the composition of the brain. We know that children learn at an incredibly fast rate; conversely, adults learn more slowly and do not remember information as well, and the elderly are often prone to mild forgetfulness which does not necessarily indicate serious memory problems.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), older adults may find they don't do as well as younger people on complex memory or learning tests. Given enough time, however, studies show that healthy older people can do as well as younger people do on these tests. In fact, as they age, healthy adults usually improve in areas of mental ability such as vocabulary.
Memory problems may be related to treatable health issues. Chronic alcoholism, thyroid, kidney, or liver disorders, tumors, infections, or blood clots in the brain may cause memory loss or dementia. Additionally, side effects from medication can be a cause, as can certain vitamin deficiencies. Emotional problems like stress, anxiety, or depression, can leave a person feeling distracted, making them appear more forgetful. This confusion and forgetfulness caused by emotions is usually temporary.
For some older people, memory problems are a sign of a more serious problem, such as amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI), dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or vascular dementia. For those whose memory loss seems excessive, it’s important to consult a doctor, as conducting a thorough health evaluation—including review of medical history, prescription and over-the-counter medicines, diet, past medical problems, and general health—is necessary to getting to the root of the problem.
When memory problems make daily living too challenging or unsafe, David York Agency can assist you with senior care planning. Contact us at 718-376-7755, or visit us online at davidyorkhomehealthcare.com. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.