Memory Loss and Old Age
One of the most common ailments people associate with old age is memory loss. While it's true that our memories may begin to wane as we get older, memory loss is not an inevitable part of the aging process. There are many different types of memory loss associated with old age, and most of the time it is normal and shouldn't cause worry. However, there are some cases in which memory loss should be taken seriously and medical attention considered.
The degrees of human memory loss from old age are:
- Normal forgetfulness - Most people will begin to experience memory loss due to old age around the time they turn 60, and sometimes during menopause, but these slight lapses in memory are usually trivial and do not hinder a person's ability to live an independent, normal life. Some symptoms of normal memory loss with old age are:
- Misplacing things
- Forgetting names of people you have just met, or met a long time ago
- Forgetting why you began a task, or why you entered a room
- Forgetting conversations you have had with people
- Becoming easily distracted
- Trouble retrieving information that is on "the tip of your tongue"
- Mild cognitive impairment - This type of memory loss due to old age is more severe than normal forgetfulness, but stops far short of dementia. However, people who experience mild cognitive impairment are at a higher risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, and their condition should be monitored. People with this type of memory loss in old age are still able to live independently, but may have some difficulties. Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment include:
- Begin forgetting regular events, such as weekly obligations and birthdays
- Unable to remember details of something you just saw or read
- Difficulty remembering things you have known for a very long time
- Frequently misplacing or forgetting important things, like keys, wallets, and medication.
- Dementia - This level of memory loss from old age severely impairs a person's ability to care for themselves due to brain deterioration, and many require full-time care. Alzheimer's disease is the most commonly diagnosed form of dementia. Symptoms include:
- Impaired judgment
- Inappropriate behavior, like forgetting to get dressed before leaving the house.
- Disorientation of time and place
- Forgetting what day, or even year it is
- Hallucinations and paranoia
- Neglect of personal care and safety
- Does not recognize family and other familiar people
- Repeatedly asking the same questions