Do you find yourself forgetting things more frequently or do you have trouble recalling certain details as you age? This could be a sign that your cognitive processes are slowing down. However, don’t be alarmed! Lapses in your memory are a natural part of aging. A study found gradual memory loss in about 40% of people aged 65 and above, none of whom had any immediate connection to medical conditions. Hence, having lapses in your memory does not necessarily mean you have chronic conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Read on to find out more about how aging affects memory.
Why People Have Memory Loss as They Age
Mainly, the loss of cognitive performance as you age is linked to the physiological changes that your body undergoes naturally. These are some of the areas that are affected.
- Hippocampus: The hippocampus is the part of your brain that controls memory functions and memory retrieval. As with any other body part, it deteriorates with age, causing its performance to decline.
- Hormones and proteins: Some of these are crucial to creating brain cells and ensuring that brain cells function optimally. As you age, some of your glands may stop secreting these substances or do so in lesser quantities. This causes your brain to work less effectively.
- Blood flow: Blood flow to the brain decreases as you age. Naturally, the reduced blood flow will impair the brain’s functions as it gets less oxygen and nutrients.
Differences Between Normal Memory Aging and Dementia
Dementia has a more profound impact on a person’s memory than normal aging. A person who ages normally may be unable to remember simple and basic details of an event. However, a person with dementia may not recall the memory of having been at the event at all. Oftentimes, those who suffer from dementia are unable to hold a conversation. They will have lengthy pauses in their speech as they cannot recall the words they need to complete their sentences. On the other hand, people with normal memory loss can follow a conversation but may just find it difficult to use the right words at times.
How You Can Manage Normal Memory Aging
Even though you know that your brain will perform less optimally as you age, it does not mean that you cannot do anything in your daily life to reverse this! Following these tips will help keep your mind active. This will reduce the rate of cognitive decline and help you to strengthen your memory.
- Have a routine: Plan your activities around a structured routine. This ensures that you are less likely to forget your necessary daily tasks. Repeating the same routine will also reinforce these tasks as habits.
- Eat brain-boosting foods: Certain foods like oily fish contain omega-3 fatty oils that have been found to improve brain health. Other antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries also reduce inflammation in the brain. Having a healthy diet can help ensure your brain functions as optimally as possible.
- Use a planner: Sometimes, writing things down is the best visual reminder for yourself! A planner or calendar can help you keep your activities well-organized in an easy-to-read manner.
- Seek professional help: It may be a good idea to consult a doctor to get a medical opinion about your memory issues if they bother you. Furthermore, getting professionals to assist with memory impairment can help you access tailored and effective treatments to improve your cognitive functions.