As we age, it is normal to experience a decline in our cognitive health. When memory loss starts to hinder us from performing our day-to-day tasks and our accustomed life roles, it can be a health concern that may need to be further evaluated by a professional. Follow the article to understand more about the connection between forgetfulness and aging.
Forgetfulness and Aging
Memory is defined as the ability to reproduce or recollect what we have learned and retained. Our power to remember and recall what had happened is what connects us to our family and friends as well as members of the community. It is normal for us to experience changes in our memory. However, these changes may sometimes take place sooner than we have expected. These changes are usually not that significant to be noticed but at other times, they may cause problems and affect our daily life. For instance, older adults who are living with illnesses may face an issue with medication management. They may overlook their prescription schedule and dosage which can in turn implicate their health further. Over time, their condition deteriorates and they can suffer depression, anxiety, vitamin deficiency, and other health ailments.
Types of Memory Problems that Are Part of Normal Aging
Simple forgetfulness and slowing in recollecting dates, names, and events can be part of normal aging. There are various memory processes that include recalling information, learning new information, and recognizing familiar information. Each of these processes may get disrupted, thus leading to forgetfulness. There are also several forms of memory that can affect normal aging differently such as the following.
Preserved Memory Functions
- Procedural memory (complete tasks)
- Remote memory (power to remember events from years back)
- Semantic recall (general knowledge)
Declining Memory Functions
- Recalling new information (takes longer to learn something new and recall it)
- Learning new information
Other Cognitive Changes that Happen with Age
- Language is slightly affected by age. Language is the words used, pronunciation, and the ways words are used to be understood.
- Language comprehension (understanding language rules) is usually preserved, as are vocab and syntax.
- Trouble remembering names and finding the words to construct a sentence are very common and taking longer to get the words out may also happen.
- Verbal intelligence may remain unchanged with age, but the speed of processing information can gradually slow down.
- Executive functions like abstract thinking and planning stay the same for daily tasks but may slow down when faced with divided attention or new tasks.
- Slower cognitive processing and reaction time takes place with age.
Memory Problems that Are Not Part of Normal Aging
Memory loss and thinking problems that are seen in dementia are not a normal part of aging. Researchers believe that mild cognitive impairment points toward dementia for some individuals and can be a point that leads to early-stage dementia. Not every older adult diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment will eventually develop dementia. However, it is best to get the memory loss symptoms further evaluated to help address them before they work out to be an onset of dementia.