Age Related Memory Loss

Memory and aging: What’s normal, what’s not

Forgetfulness is a common complaint among older adults. You start to talk about a movie you saw recently when you realize you can’t remember the title. You’re giving directions to your house when you suddenly blank on a familiar street name. You find yourself standing in the middle of the kitchen wondering what you went in there for.

Memory lapses can be frustrating, but most of the time they aren’t cause for concern. Age-related memory changes are not the same thing as dementia.

As we grow older, we experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions we’ve always taken for granted. It takes longer to learn and recall information. We’re not as quick as we used to be. In fact, we often mistake this slowing of our mental processes for true memory loss. But in most cases, if we give ourselves time, the information will come to mind.

Memory loss is not an inevitable part of the aging process

The brain is capable of producing new brain cells at any age, so significant memory loss is not an inevitable result of aging. But just as it is with muscle strength, you have to use it or lose it. Your lifestyle, health habits, and daily activities have a huge impact on the health of your brain. Whatever your age, there are many ways you can improve your cognitive skills, prevent memory loss, and protect your grey matter.

Furthermore, many mental abilities are largely unaffected by normal aging, such as:

  • Your ability to do the things you’ve always done and continue to do often
  • The wisdom and knowledge you’ve acquired from life experience
  • Your innate common sense
  • Your ability to form reasonable arguments and judgments

What causes age-related memory loss?

  • The hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in the formation and retrieval of memories, often deteriorates with age.
  • Hormones and proteins that protect and repair brain cells and stimulate neural growth also decline with age.
  • Older people often experience decreased blood flow to the brain, which can impair memory and lead to changes in cognitive skills.

 

for more information visit: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/memory/age-related-memory-loss.htm

10 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Your Blood Tests

Typical routine blood tests include the complete blood count, also called CBC, to measure your red and white blood cell numbers as well as hemoglobin and other numbers. This test can uncover anemia, infection, and even cancer of the blood.

Another common blood test is the basic metabolic panel to check your heart, kidney and liver function by looking at your blood glucose, calcium, and electrolyte levels. And to check for heart disease risk, you may have a lipoprotein panel that measures levels of fats in your blood, like good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL), and triglycerides.

Here are 10 things that your doctor may not tell you about results of blood tests like these, unless you ask.

1. Doctors often skip the good news. Your doctor should discuss all blood test results with you. But often the rule is, “No news is good news.” If your CBC, blood chemistry, and cholesterol results fall within normal ranges, the doctor’s office probably won’t reach out to you about your report. Or they may send you a copy with little or no explanation. Even if things appear normal, be sure to follow up and discuss your blood test with your doctor, nurse practitioner, or nurse, recommends theNational Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Ask if there have been changes since the last test of the same type, and what those changes mean.

2. What’s considered “normal” differs between men and women. If you compare your blood test results with someone elses, you might be surprised to find differences. For example, the normal reference range for the number of red blood cells in a complete blood count, or CBC test, is between 5 million and 6 million cells per microliter for a man. The normal range is lower for women before menopause, between 4 million and 5 million, likely because of blood loss during menstruation.

3. Results can mean different things depending on your age. Normal levels of hemoglobin, part of the CBC test, vary by age — lower for children and higher for adults. For children, a hemoglobin level of 11 to 13 grams/deciliter (gm/dl) is normal, while for men, a value of 13.5 to 17.5 gm/dl is normal, and it’s 12 to 15.5 gm/dl  for adult women. Age matters for your cholesterol numbers, too. While most people should aim for LDL cholesterol levels below 130 milligrams/dl, levels of 160 to 190 mg/dl or above point to a risk for heart disease and are riskier if you are a man over 45 or a woman over 55, notes the Mayo Clinic.

4. A “positive” test result may not be positive news. Some blood tests look for diseases by searching for molecular markers in your blood sample — among them the sickle cell anemia test, the HIV test, the hepatitis C test, and the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene test for breast and ovarian cancer risk. Results are considered “positive” when the test finds the disease marker — DNA or protein — that it is looking for. In these cases, a positive test result means you may have the disease or disorder or that you may have been exposed to it in the past.

RELATED: 10 Cancer Screenings Every Woman Should Know About

5. A “negative” test result is usually good news. Negative is not the same as bad when it comes to blood tests. A negative result means that the test did not detect what it was seeking, whether a disease marker or a risk factor for a health condition. When you’ve had a blood test to check for an infectious disease — a rapid blood test for hepatitis C, for example — getting back a negative result is good news — it means the test found no evidence of an infection.

6. False-positive test results happen more often than you might think. The first screening test for a condition often has to be checked by a second, more specific test to find out whether the results are accurate and meaningful for your health. An example is the rapid HIV test, for which false positives are common. In communities where about 1 percent are infected with the virus, two false positive HIV rapid test results are expected for every 10 true positive results, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

7. False-negative test results happen too.Sometimes a test doesn’t pick up evidence of a disease or condition even though you actually do have it. For example, if you had a blood test for hepatitis C and the results came back negative, but you wereexposed to the virus in the past few months, you could still have an infection and not realize it. Getting tested again is a good idea, recommends nurse Lucinda K. Porter, RN, if you think you were recently exposed to this infectious disease.

8. Test values can be different from lab to lab. Lab technicians’ reports compare your blood test results to a range that is considered normal for that laboratory. The lab’s reference range is based on test results from many people previously tested in that lab. This normal range may not be the same as another lab’s, notes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so don’t be surprised if you find that a prior blood test report varies from newer reports — the difference could be in the lab.

9. Abnormal results might not be due to a disease. A test result outside the normal range of expected lab values could lead to diagnosis of a disease or disorder. But test outcomes can also be abnormal for other reasons. If you had a blood glucose test and you ate something before the test, or were drinking alcohol the night before or taking certain medications, your result could be temporarily abnormal.

10. Mistakes happen. Although mix-ups of patient blood test samples are rare, they do happen, like in the case of an HIV patient’s sample that was switched with another person’s, accidentally, as reported on ABC News. How your blood sample is handled even before it’s analyzed can affect results, too. For example, if the technician shakes your blood sample in the collection tube, blood cells break open, releasing their contents and potentially changing the test results.

 

For more information visit: http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/things-your-doctor-wont-tell-you-about-blood-tests/