Our ability to store and recall information we have received or experienced is what we refer to as memory. Memory helps us perform everyday tasks like remembering names, appointments, directions, and even passwords (Ouch!). Our identity and personality, and relationships are also shaped by our memory.
As we age, it is common to experience some changes in memory and other cognitive functions, such as language, reasoning, and attention. Most often, these changes are mild and do not interfere with our normal ability to function normally. They are part of the normal aging processes that affect our brains, such as:
Factors that may contribute to common age-related changes in memory include:
Nevertheless, not all memory issues are normal or harmless. Some memory issues can indicate a more serious condition, such as mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s. These conditions can affect now only memory but also other aspects of behavior and thinking. They can well impair our ability to perform daily activities, such as driving, managing finances, correctly managing medications, or maintaining personal hygiene.
There are some indicators that may suggest a more serious memory problem. These may include:
Should you notice any of these changes in yourself or a loved one, it’s best to consult a physician or medical professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Some memory issues may be treatable, such as infections, thyroid disorders, dehydration, depression, or vitamin deficiencies. Other issues with memory may be due to progressive brain diseases such as Alzheimer's.
At this time, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but early diagnosis and treatment can help slow down the progression and improve the quality of life person and their caregivers.
The reality is, we are all susceptible to changes in our memory because we are all aging. Still, there are changes we can make to help prevent or at least cope with those changes. Here are a few suggestions:
Memory problems can be a source of frustration and worry for many of us as we age.. However, by understanding what is normal and what is not, seeking medical attention when needed, and adopting healthy lifestyle habits and strategies, we can prevent or cope with memory problems and maintain our cognitive health and well-being.
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