Mild memory lapses are part of the normal aging process. The types of problems that often arise include forgetting where you left things, your neighbor’s first name, or even the reason you picked up that phone. Such a scenario is quite common with older adults.
Although for some seniors, memory problems may be indicative of more serious issues such as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease, most are not. In MCI and Alzheimer’s, forgetfulness expands to include issues of thinking, judgment, recognizing and performing daily activities.
If you are concerned that your memory will continue to decline, talk with your doctor about your symptoms, and attempt to identify the causes of each. Some common reasons for short-term memory loss include :
- Side effects from medications
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Thyroid problems
According to the National Institute on Aging, there are recommended ways for adults experiencing the normal aging process to maintain and strengthen their memory skills. NIAs suggestions include :
- Plan tasks, make to do lists, and use memory aids like notes and calendars.
- Stay involved in hobbies that coordinate physical activities with brain processing
- Pursue interests that relieve feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.
If your memory losses are not part of the normal aging process, you may be having symptoms that are much more severe. These might include your inability to follow written or spoken directions, to use notes as reminders, or to care for yourself. By giving your doctor permission to speak with your family members and close friends, he or she may be better able to understand your problems and, if necessary, to recommend a proper course of treatment.
For more information on memory loss and other health issues affecting seniors, visit the National Institute on Aging website at nia.nih.gov/health.