Understanding Age Related Memory Loss
your memory? Memory experts might answer the question with another
question: What kind of memory? The word "memory" is a general
term that describes a variety of brain functions. It is the ability to
recall events from decades ago and from the last few seconds. It is the
ability to memorize complex information or simply to connect a name with a
face. Many memories last a lifetime, but others fade with age. Some degree
of memory loss is a natural part of the aging process for many people. But
clearly defining the type of memory loss can help determine whether the
problem is a minor, normal change or the first signs of a memory disorder.
Half to two-thirds of people ages 50 and older notice greater difficulty
remembering names, appointment, and other details. Memories that are pegged
to a specific time and place are especially vulnerable. Fortunately, the
small memory lapses that occur with age are not usually signs of a
neurological disorder, such as Alzheimer's disease, but rather the result
of normal changes in the structure and function of the brain.
It is reassuring to know that the memory difficulties that are caused by
the aging process are relatively minor. Although frustrating, they won't
interfere with your ability to do your job or run your household. It is
also reassuring to know that there are many things you can do to protect
and improve your memory.
Some health conditions that become more common with age can impair memory,
including heart disease and its risk factors, such as hypertension. Memory
impairment is also among the side effects of some medications, such as
sleep aids and some pain relievers. In such cases, controlling health
problems and switching medications can often restore memory function.
Perhaps the most encouraging finding about the brain is that it keeps
growing new neurons (brain cells) and making new connections between them.
You can support the growth and development of your brain by taking
advantage of more hopeful news: People who keep learning and stay mentally
active increase their odds of retaining good brain functions as they age.
The more you use your brain, the stronger it gets - and the longer it stays
Adapted from the Patient