What is normal memory loss? It’s perfectly natural to feel a little worried when you forget something, particularly when you are in your forties and fifties and in the knowledge that around five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s and some of those are the in the same age range as you.
How can you tell the difference between your memory issues and something more significant? Clearly if you are really concerned you need to seek medical advice but we will quickly go through the sort of situations that might be causing your memory loss and give you some pointers to help improve your brain health.
The first situation you might find is when you have the sort of lapses that are of themselves not life changing. We all forget things; the name of a song or the odd appointment, why we’ve just walked into a room for something and forgetting what it was. These are all everyday types of lapses we all get from time to time.
These normal slowing down of recall are connected to a naturally aging brain and many other lifestyle factors like stress. If you are disrupted constantly with memory problems then there might be something else going on but, it’s a good sign if despite those occasional frustrating memory lapses, you can still hold that the job, get up in the morning, take up hobbies, engage socially and look after yourself.
Secondly there are lots of brain fitness tests products available online and there is no evidence that those can reverse the sort of memory loss associated with illnesses like Alzheimer’s. If you are engaged with some brain training program and have seen improvement then that’s a good sign.
If you are still forming new memories by learning new things then again that’s a good sign. Memory dementia is an inability to form new memories so if you can learn new things then that’s great. There are a lot of brain improvers around, you can get courses for your computer, and you can get books of crossword, brain teasers and Sudoku, all of which will maintain brain fitness.
If you have just started on a course of medication and are concerned that might be having an effect on your memory then it could well be the case. Before you get too stressed that your memory loss is a problem, consider whether there been any changes to your lifestyle recently, have you been put on a course of cholesterol drugs or statins for example? Always check whether any new prescriptions might have an effect on your memory if you are concerned about it.
If no one else seems to notice your memory loss then it will not be serious. Certainly some people might not mention it for fear of offence but constant memory loss can cause a lot of friction and if members of your family or friends complain that you are constantly forgetting appointments or making mistakes that you can wouldn’t normally make then you may wish to seek some medical advice. What we’re talking about here is something more sinister than the occasional slip and the teasing around that. These are the sort of memory lapses which are grating on others so may be indicative of wider issues
Other perceived problems with the memory can be caused by stress or sleep issues or trying to do too much. You are stressed not demented. Doing more than one thing at once challenges our brain. You are actually moving your attention from one thing to another which means you are notreally attending to either fully and this can create a short term memory loss. Not getting enough sleep is another factor because the brain is still working on while we are asleep, processing and organizing. Sleep deprivation and stress can affect memory as increases in cortisol can interfere with the brain cells. If you are tending to forget and are sleeping well, not stressed at work or at home and your family are noticing this then these are all the early signs them something else might be going on.
So if you have reached the conclusion that to your occasional memory lapses are nothing to worry about but want to improve your brain health, what can you do? We have already touched on the sort of brain fitness challenges and online programs you might want to consider but you should also be aware of other factors including your diet. You might find a general all round brain fitness supplement like brainfire could help. It has had good reviews and has the sort of ingredients one would be looking for to improve brain health.
Other factors to consider apart from your diet, reducing stress levels and cutting down on the alcohol consumption which can of course create memory problems of its own if used in excess. Taking a good hard look at our lifestyle is not a bad thing and may certainly help you to distinguish your brain problems from those associated with dementia.
Here is a helpful video which explains things in more detail.