Aging is an inevitable part of life. The aging process brings many changes to both our bodies and our brain. Some of those changes are related to our memory. While people may joke about having a “senior moment”, age related memory problems can sometimes be a very serious matter. Some degree of forgetfulness and memory lapses are to be expected as we get older, but how do you know what’s normal, what’s not, or when you should speak with your doctor about your memory problems? That’s what we’re here to discuss today.
What Is Considered Normal?
Not all issues with memory or cause for concern. It’s considered normal to occasionally forget things that happened recently like the name of someone you just met or where you put your car keys. It can also be considered normal to have a slight delay in recalling names, dates, or events. These are things that many people experience as they get older. It may be a little annoying for the person who can’t remember why they went into the kitchen, but it’s not a major disruption to their life, and it doesn’t pose a safety concern.
There are several memory processes that can be slowed down by the aging process and lead to mild forgetfulness including things like learning new information or recalling information. Some other normal age-related memory issues can include things like not being able to recall the word for common items. It’s that feeling of having something right on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t quite remember the word. Some might find it takes them a little longer to say what they want to say because they don’t recall words as quickly as they used to. And likewise, it might take a little bit longer for something you just heard to “sink in”.
What Is Not Considered Normal?
It’s very important to remember that old age in and of itself is not an illness or health problem. It’s simply the mature stage of our life cycle. And while it’s normal for some memory processes to gradually slow as we age, we can still keep our brains active and sharp in our senior years.
And while conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are most common among the older population, they are not a normal part of aging.
It’s not considered normal to have difficulty doing everyday activities like making a phone call, driving, or finding your way home. Here are some other signs that you may need to talk to your doctor:
- Repeatedly asking the same questions
- Getting lost in a familiar area
- Having difficulty following recipes or directions for doing things
- Getting confused about time, places, or people you know
- Having trouble taking care of yourself like forgetting to eat or take a bath
- Doing unsafe things like leaving the stove on unattended
It’s important to speak to your doctor right away if you experience any of these memory problems. It’s vital to determine why you are having these problems because not all memory issues have the same cause. It could be a symptom of depression, a treatable infection, side effects of a medication, or a brain disorder. Finding the cause will help determine if your memory problems can be improved or even reversed, as well as identify which treatments will be best for you.
When you and your loved ones know the differences between normal age-related memory loss and more serious cognitive decline you can recognize an emerging problem and act early to avoid issues that are preventable, seek a diagnosis, and get the treatment and support necessary.
At Ashbridge Manor Senior Living we pride ourselves on creating an environment that enables seniors to lead a fulfilling, socially active lifestyle to improve their health. When it’s time to transition to a senior living facility, contact our professional staff members and we can help make it easy. You can find us at 971 E. Lancaster Avenue in Downingtown, PA, call 610.269.8800, or contact us online for more information. Ask us about our move-in special!