Memory lapses are normal, and young people usually don’t tend to pay much attention to a misplaced smartphone or a set of keys. However, when getting old, we worry about what may be the cause of these memory loss episodes. Keeping in mind that as we age, certain age-related memory issues emerge naturally is important. However, major ones are not normal and we should seek specialized help as soon as we or someone close to us notices those. As a result, it is important to differentiate between normal age-related memory loss and episodes that might signal a more severe affection, such as dementia. Below you will find some important pieces of information regarding the signs of each of those.
Age-related memory loss – Which are the causes?
There are mainly three causes of memory loss in older people, as described below.
- A decreased blood flow in the brain that older people experience;
- As we age, the hormones responsible for the proper functioning of the brain decrease;
- With age, the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for retrieving memory development, declines.
In most people, these cause episodes of mild memory lapses. However, some people experience acute memory loss.
Normal memory lapses or dementia?
This is one of the main concerns of one, as they age. However, by paying attention to several signs, you will be able to tell if your experience is normal for someone your age, or if you should be concerned for your well-being.
- Normal forgetfulness due to aging: please note that these symptoms are not signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s. They are normal in individuals of older age. These signs include the occasional inability to remember when frequently used items are placed (keys, glasses); sometimes forgetting someone’s name, or mixing names of your family members; becoming easily distracted and as a result forgetting various things; not being able to remember a thing that you have “on the tip of your tongue”. These signs are not preventing a person to function properly, thus these are not disabling for the person.
- Symptoms that may indicate more complex issues: forgetting to perform simple tasks, that were previously performed multiple times; unable to recall incidents of forgetfulness when it caused issues; poor judgment and decision-making abilities; constant rambling and repeating the same information over and over again in conversations; inappropriate social behavior.
When the last symptoms occur in yourself or somebody else, it may be the case to act upon the issue and seek professional help. Memory loss of this amplitude is not normal, regardless of the age, and it prevents the patient from having a healthy and happy life, oftentimes being disabling. As long as these memory lapses do not affect your ability to function, they can be seen as normal episodes explained by one of the causes described above. A specialist to evaluate your memory loss and some professional screenings are necessary. Dementia will affect not only your life, but also the life of your loved ones.
[expand title = “References”]
Memory Loss: When to seek help. URL link. Accessed November 2017.