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Is Some Memory Loss Normal With Age

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Is Any Memory Loss Normal With Age

Memory Loss

Like many of you, I am a baby boomer. I was born in January of 1946 so I’m right at the tip of the spear of the generation that was born between World War II and 1964. We baby boomers are an interesting group. We did a lot of new things and revolutionized quite a bit of popular culture from movies to music and progressive politics.

Many of my baby boomer patients notice that from time to time they forget things like a name, face, or where they put their keys. Is this normal, they wonder? Or, as many of them ask, “Is this a sign of Alzheimer’s?” It’s a reasonable worry, as Alzheimer’s disease is reaching epidemic proportions and recent surveys suggest that it is the baby boomers’ number one fear. Beyond that, according to AARP, the number one priority of 94 percent of people as they age is, “keeping my brain sharp.”

In my capacity as president and medical director of The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, it’s my job to keep abreast of advances in the field of Alzheimer’s research. Recently, I’ve been thinking about this particular memory issue. At the same time, there have been a number of articles in the medical literature about it. The basic question is this:

“Is any memory loss normal with age?”

  • No Cognitive Impairment or NCI.
  • Alzheimer’s disease in each of its various stages from early to advanced.
  • So what happened to AAMI or memory loss of normal aging? Does it still exist?

    But is it hopeless? Are we all doomed to lose our memory?

    Best of Blessings,

    Dr Alan Zacharias On Memory Loss: What’s Normal What’s Not

    • Boulder Community Health

    Do you worry that forgetting names or where you put your keys might be a sign of impending dementia?

    Some memory loss is a normal part of aging. But sometimes, forgetfulness is an early sign of serious conditions such as Alzheimers disease.

    During a free online health lecture, board-certified neurologist Alan Zacharias, MD, of Associated Neurologists explained the difference between normal and abnormal memory lapses. He emphasized, The word for tonight is hope. Adding, Finally, there is some hope as the first medication in 18 years, known as aducanumab, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of Alzheimers disease.

    Topics Dr. Zacharias presentation addressed:

    One of the most common concerns of patients is wanting to understand what is normal as we age. Dr. Zacharias shared, Changes as we age are incredibly variable for physical and cognitive function. It depends a lot on genetics, environment and lifestyle. Sadly, by the age of 20, we start to lose brain cells and many of the important chemicals for our brain function.

    Many terms have been applied to normal aging-related memory loss:

    • Late-life forgetfulness
    • Age-associated memory impairment
    • Aging associated cognitive decline

    Dr. Zacharias added, When you are more aware of your memory issues than others are, that is often a good sign of the benign nature of your concerns.”

    There Is A Difference Between Memory Loss As A Part Of Normal Ageing And As A Symptom Of Dementia

    This information describes those differences and provides some tips on keeping your memory sharp.

    One of the main symptoms of dementia is memory loss.

    We all forget things from time to time, but the loss of memory with dementia is very different. It is persistent and progressive, not just occasional. It may affect the ability to continue to work or carry out familiar tasks. It may mean having difficulty finding the way home. Eventually it may mean forgetting how to dress or how to bathe.

    An example of normal forgetfulness is walking into the kitchen and forgetting what you went in there for, or misplacing the car keys. A person with dementia however, may lose the car keys and then forget what they are used for.

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    Recognizing The Early Warning Signs Of Alzheimers And Dementia

    When memory loss becomes so pervasive and severe that it disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships, you may be experiencing the warning signs of Alzheimers disease, or another disorder that causes dementia, or a condition that mimics dementia.

    While forgetfulness is the most common symptom associated with dementia, its certainly not the only sign of the disease. According to the Alzheimers Association, the symptoms of dementia go beyond memory loss -your loved one may experience difficulty communicating, focusing, reasoning and more. Examples may include:

    If youre concerned about your parents overall well-being, schedule an appointment with the doctor. He or she will give you a better understanding of exactly what your loved one is going through and if theres any progression in memory loss.

    What Can I Do To Manage Memory Loss

    Is Memory Loss Normal As We Age?

    Some memory loss cannot be treated, but you may be able to stop it from getting worse. Your healthcare provider may need to stop or change certain medicines you are taking, or change the dose. The provider may also recommend vitamins or supplements to help improve your memory. The following are ways to help manage memory loss:

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    Forgetting Things Memory Problems Are More Common Than You Think

    It’s normal to forget things from time to time, and it’s normal to become somewhat more forgetful as you age. But how much forgetfulness is too much? How can you tell whether your memory lapses are normal forgetfulness and within the scope of normal aging or are a

    Healthy people can experience memory loss or memory distortion at any age. Some of these memory flaws become more pronounced with age, but unless they are extreme and persistent they are not considered indicators of Alzheimer’s or other memory-impairing illnesses.

    Comparing Signs Of Dementia And Normal Aging

    Dementia includes not only memory loss but difficulties with cognition and the ability to carry on ones life and daily activities.

    Not all people experience the same symptoms. There are several distinctions that can be made between dementia and normal aging.

    Normal aging

    • Having troubles concentrating and often difficulty finding the right word
    • Slow to think things through or juggle multiple tasks
    • Occasional feelings of anxiety or moodiness
    • Confusion about the day or a location but remembering later
    • Misplacing common items but able to find them


    • Issues with language skills asking the same questions repeatedly
    • Difficulty paying attention or completing a task
    • Irritability or changes in personality
    • Disorientation as to the date getting lost in a familiar place
    • Continually misplacing items

    Lack of sleep stress or anxiety even medications all can play a role in occasional memory loss. Techniques such as creating lists or taking notes can help make these moments of forgetfulness less troubling and cut down on any disruptions to your daily routine.

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    The Truth About Aging And Dementia

    As we age, our brains change, but Alzheimers disease and related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, up to 40% of dementia cases may be prevented or delayed. It helps to understand whats normal and whats not when it comes to brain health.

    Normal brain aging may mean slower processing speeds and more trouble multitasking, but routine memory, skills, and knowledge are stable and may even improve with age. Its normal to occasionally forget recent events such as where you put your keys or the name of the person you just met.

    In the United States, 6.2 million people age 65 and older have Alzheimers disease, the most common type of dementia. People with dementia have symptoms of cognitive decline that interfere with daily lifeincluding disruptions in language, memory, attention, recognition, problem solving, and decision-making. Signs to watch for include:

    Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. There are 7 ways to help maintain your brain health.

    • Not being able to complete tasks without help.
    • Trouble naming items or close family members.
    • Forgetting the function of items.
    • Repeating questions.
    • Taking much longer to complete normal tasks.
    • Misplacing items often.
    • Being unable to retrace steps and getting lost.

    Memory Lapses: Normal Aging Or Something More

    BCH Lecture: Memory Loss: Whats Normal, Whats Not?

    Have you ever walked into a room and forgot why you entered? Lost the name of an acquaintance you met a few years ago? Forgot the name of a tool in your shop?

    Memory lapses and modest decline in thinking skills are common as you age. There’s a difference, however, between normal changes in memory and memory loss associated with neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia. And some memory problems are the result of treatable conditions.

    Memory continuum

    Think of memory function as running on a continuum, with each person’s memory and cognitive functioning falling somewhere along it. Some people have sharp memories and can recall even the smallest details, while others struggle to remember big events.

    Memory changes can be viewed as movement along this continuum.
    Other early signs can include:
    • Asking the same questions repeatedly.
    • Forgetting common words when speaking.
    • Mixing words up, such as saying “bed” instead of “table.”
    • Taking longer to complete familiar, simple tasks, such as operating a microwave or washing machine.
    • Unable to perform complex tasks with many steps, such as following a recipe or playing a board game.
    • Misplacing items in inappropriate places, such as putting a wallet in the refrigerator.
    • Getting confused while walking or driving in a familiar area.
    • Transposing numbers, such as when balancing a checkbook or dialing a telephone number.
    • Limiting participation in conversations.

    Causes of dementia

    What you can do

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    Is Your Memory Normal

    They say that memory loss is the second thing to happen as you get older. So what’s the first? Umm, I forgot! And actually, by the time you reach the end of this story, you may remember only a fraction of it. Not to worry, you’re not alone.

    Experts say that mild memory loss is perfectly normal — especially as we age. That’s right, if you sometimes forget simple things, you’re not necessarily developing Alzheimer’s disease. There is a gang of people walking around just like you who occasionally misplace their keys, have that deer-in-headlights look as they search for their cars in parking lots, and can’t recall the name of one new person they met at their last office party — yes, the one from last night. And there’s a reason for those character-themed floors coupled with the happy-go-lucky music in Disney amusement park parking garages.

    “If we have forgotten an appointment, we begin thinking, ‘Uh oh, is this the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease?’ and we become much more conscious, and it gets kind of a disproportionate amount of attention when it really may be something quite benign,” Stuart Zola, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Emory School of Medicine and director of Yerkes National Primate Facility in Atlanta tells WebMD.

    Memory is the ability to normally recall the facts and events of our lives, and this takes place in three stages:

    What Are The Main Causes Of Dementia

    There are several different types of dementia. The term dementia refers to a set of symptoms. This includes problems with memory, thinking, reasoning, learning, language, and daily activities.

    There are many different conditions that cause dementia. The most common ones are Alzheimers disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia.

    Alzheimers disease causes between half and three-quarters of all cases of dementia. Memory loss is the main symptom for Alzheimers. Its often the first thing thats noticeable. It usually affects short-term or recent memory in the early stages. For example, the person may recall details about their life from many years ago. But, they wont remember what they had for lunch.

    Vascular dementia causes around one in five cases of dementia. With this type of dementia memory loss is also typical in the earlier stages. Yet, it may not be the symptom thats noticed first.

    Dementia is progressive, meaning the symptoms get worse over time. Memory loss will become more noticeable. It will also start to affect longer-term memories as the condition progresses.

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    Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment

    Mild cognitive impairment is an intermediate stage between normal age-related cognitive changes and the more serious symptoms that indicate dementia.

    MCI can involve problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes, but the line between MCI and normal memory problems is not always a clear one. The difference is often one of degrees. For example, its normal as you age to have some problems remembering the names of people. However, its not normal to forget the names of your close family and friends and then still be unable to recall them after a period of time.

    If you have mild cognitive impairment, you and your family or close friends will likely be aware of the decline in your memory or mental function. But, unlike people with full-blown dementia, you are still able to function in your daily life without relying on others.

    While many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia, that doesnt mean its inevitable. Some people with MCI plateau at a relatively mild stage of decline while others even return to normal. The course is difficult to predict, but in general, the greater the degree of memory impairment, the greater your risk of developing dementia some time in the future.

    When Should I Be Concerned About Memory Loss

    Early Memory Loss vs Normal Aging final

    Jun 09, 2018Cedars-Sinai Staff

    Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. How do you know when should it be a concern?

    Forgetting where you left your phone is something we all do once in a whileand it’s usually nothing to worry about.

    As we age though, these memory lapses can make us wonder if our so-called “senior moments” are becoming a problem.

    We asked neurologist Dr. Patrick Lyden to help us sort out what’s normal and when we should be concerned.

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    Is There Help For Memory Loss

    Treatment for memory loss depends on the nature of your condition and its root cause. For example, if your memory loss is related to a mental health condition, such as depression, better management could help alleviate your memory loss.

    For patients in the early stages of dementia, simple lifestyle changes may help prevent the diseases progress. In fact, recent research indicates that one-third of dementia cases could be prevented through lifestyle. Medications are also available to help treat and slow its development.

    If you or a loved one is experiencing memory loss, dont wait to speak to a specialist. The team at Prima Medicine provides compassionate and effective care as well as customized treatment plans. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Prima Medicine today. You can also schedule a telehealth appointment through the online patient portal.

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    Summary Of Differences Between Forgetfulness Of Normal Aging And Alzheimer’s

    Normal Aging

    • Memory improves with cueing and context
    • Vocabulary and relationship understanding remains intact
    • Able to remember the order of things and who said what
    • Frequently demonstrating poor judgment and decision-making
    • Not being able to handle paying bills regularly
    • Often being disoriented to time and place
    • Difficulty with familiar tasks, such as making coffee every day
    • Getting lost on your way home from your daily job

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    What Are Some Common Causes Of Forgetting

    Information may be forgotten because one wasnt paying close enough attention initially or has not reinforced the memory of the information by retrieving it. A more recently acquired memory may interfere with the retrieval of an earlier one, such as when one learns the names of more than one person in succession. Stress, lack of sleep, and certain behaviors, such as excessive alcohol consumption, can also temporarily impair memory

    Other Neurodegenerative Diseases And Conditions

    Is Forgetfulness Normal or Not?

    Doctors have identified many other conditions that can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms. The diseases have different symptoms that involve body and brain functions, and affect mental health and cognition.

    Argyrophilic grain disease is a common, late-onset degenerative disease that affects brain regions involved in memory and emotion. It causes cognitive decline and changes in memory and behavior, with difficulty finding words. The diseases signs and symptoms are indistinguishable from late-onset AD. Confirmation of the diagnosis can be made only at autopsy.

    Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare brain disorder that is characterized by rapidly progressing dementia. Scientists found that infectious proteins called prions become misfolded and tend to clump together, causing the brain damage. Initial symptoms include impaired memory, judgment, and thinking, along with loss of muscle coordination and impaired vision. Some symptoms of CJD can be similar to symptoms of other progressive neurologic disorders, such as Alzheimers disease.

    Secondary dementias occur in people with disorders that damage brain tissue. Such disorders may include multiple sclerosis, meningitis, and encephalitis, as well as Wilsons disease . People with malignant brain tumors may develop dementia or dementia-like symptoms because of damage to their brain circuits or a buildup of pressure inside the skull.

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    Normal Aging Memory Loss Vs Dementia

    Memory problems dont always indicate dementia. According to the National Institute on Aging, its perfectly natural to experience age-related memory loss.

    Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain, they advise. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they dont remember information as well as they did, or they lose things like their glasses. These usually are signs of mild forgetfulness, not serious memory problems

    So how do you tell the difference between normal memory loss due to aging and dementia symptoms? Its not an exact science , but the chart below can help give you an idea of what youre up against.

    Normal Aging Memory Loss
    Consistently demonstrating poor decision-making skills
    Forgetting what day it isForgetting what season it is
    Searching for the right word to use in conversationStruggling to maintain a conversation
    Forgetting to pay a monthly billExperiencing problems with managing finances
    Losing a commonly used item, like keys or glassesMisplacing things frequently and being unable to locate them within the house
    Forgetting the name of a recent acquaintanceForgetting the name of a close friend or family member
    Difficulty driving to a new locationGetting lost while driving in familiar places
    Typical mood fluctuations consistent with their personalityDramatic mood swings or changes in personality
    • Agitation.
    • Hallucinations.

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