It’s the third time that I have returned to my car in preparation for a short trip to town. First I forgot my keys, then I forgot my apple, then I forgot my water. Oh, I forgot, I also forgot whether I shut off the TV.
Should I be concerned? Would you be concerned?
The National Institute on Aging has an in-depth website on Health & Aging with a section called: Forgetfulness: Knowing When to Ask for Help. The site tells us that “Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging.” It goes on to describe causes of memory loss and more serious memory problems: Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
The Harvard Health Publication article called Forgetfulness — 7 Types of Normal Memory Problems reports that memory loss or memory distortion can occur at any age … “but — unless they are extreme and persistent — they are not considered indicators of Alzheimer's or other memory-impairing illnesses.”
The Seven Normal Memory Problems are
On a personal note – forgetting my keys, apple and water is probably a form of “absentmindedness.”
www.HelpGuide.org presents a very informative review of “Age-Related Memory Loss.” Like the Harvard Health Publication report, this review tells us that the following types of memory lapses are normal among older adults and generally are not considered warning signs of dementia:
Per the Help Guide review, “The primary difference between age-related memory loss and dementia is that the former isn’t disabling. The memory lapses have little impact on your daily performance and ability to do what you want to do. Dementia, on the other hand, is marked by a persistent, disabling decline in two or more intellectual abilities such as memory, language, judgment, and abstract thinking.”
The National Institute of Health’s Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center cites the following as “serious memory problems”
If you or a loved one are concerned about memory lapses, the Help Guide provides the MCI / Alzheimer’s Questionnaire, a 21-question test designed to measure mild cognitive impairment and your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The questions are intended to be answered by a spouse, close friend, or other loved one. While the Alzheimer’s Questionnaire is considered quite accurate, it should not be used as a definitive guide to diagnosing mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease, but as a tool to test whether your loved one needs further assessment.
If the results on your the MCI / Alzheimer’s Questionnaire are a cause for concern or if your memory lapses become frequent enough or sufficiently noticeable to concern you or a family member, make an appointment with your primary physician as soon as possible.
Per all three sources cited in this article and others, brain health and functioning can be maintained and even improved. Some suggestions to keep your brain in peak condition include
Memory loss impacts a variety of daily living activities, including mobility. Forgetting the number of steps on your stairs can cause you to stumble. Failure to duck your head under lower ceiling objects can knock you down or out. And forgetting to raise your foot above thresholds at entry doors or between rooms can result in an unexpected trip. Making your home safer with grab bars and other devices may not prevent all falls but may help you catch yourself in the unfortunate event that you do.