Memory Loss: What’s Normal; What’s Not?

Posted by: The Bristal

Normal AgingWith dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other memory-related cognitive disorders so prevalent in the news today, it causes one to pause and wonder:

What is normal age-related memory loss as compared to something more serious?

According to well-documented studies, almost 40% of people over the age of 65 will experience some form of memory loss. When there is no exacerbating medical issue behind it, it is referred to as “age-associated memory impairment.” Sounds pretty grim, granted, but it’s considered the result of normal aging. Brain diseases, however, like Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, are something quite different.

Age-associated memory impairment and dementia can be distinguished in a number of ways.

Normal aging is not being able to remember details of a conversation or event that took place a year ago.
Dementia is not being able to recall details of recent events or conversations.

Normal aging is not being able to remember the name of an acquaintance.
Dementia is not recognizing or knowing the names of family members.

Normal aging means occasionally having difficulty finding words.
Dementia means frequent pauses and substitutions when finding words.

Normal aging is being worried about your memory, but your relatives are not.
Dementia is when your relatives are worried about your memory, but you are not aware of any problems.

If you’ve been struggling a bit to remember simple things, don’t jump to conclusions.

Here are a few helpful hints for managing normal age-related memory challenges:

1. Keep a routine.

2. Organize events and information with a day planner.

3. Always put recurring use items in the same spot.

4. Repeat information (like names of people you meet).

5. Make associations and involve your senses, like sight and sound.

6. Teach others and tell stories.

7. Get a full night’s sleep.

8. Study up on anything related to brain health.

But if you’re truly concerned about memory loss, and you happen to have a family history, then, of course, it never hurts to consult a physician. But remember: Everyone’s memory slips a bit as we age. It’s a perfectly normal result. Though without a doubt, it can also prove perfectly frustrating, too.

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