Memory Problems: Normal or Serious

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“When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.” ~ Mark Twain

angelMany people, as they age, begin to have concerns about their memory. Certain changes are normal, because as we age the brain may change the way in which it stores information, making it sometimes harder to recall.

Other causes of memory problems may include depression , dementia (severe problems with memory and thinking, such as Alzheimer’s disease), side effects of drugs, strokes, head injury and alcoholism.

How can we tell if the problem is serious, or within a normal range? A memory problem is serious when it affects your daily living. If you sometimes forget names, where you left your keys, or why you came into the kitchen, you’re probably okay. But you may have a more serious problem if you have trouble remembering how to do things you’ve done many times before, getting to a place you’ve been to often, or doing things that use steps, like following a recipe.

Ordinary age-related memory problems do not tend to get much worse over time, while dementia gets noticeably worse over months or years. If dementia is suspected, a consultation with a physician is in order.

Recent research on healthy older adults shows that memory function can be improved. Activities that engage the mind can improve memory. Identifying areas we wish to improve, and utilizing strategies to assist in those areas can make a big difference.

It has been suggested that the brain is as responsive to challenge as any muscle, and that learning continues throughout life. Keep physically active, read, do different kinds of puzzles—any activities that challenge the brain. Do not simply assume that as you age your memory will go. Exercise your memory just as you exercise your body, and you will see results.

Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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