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