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Normal memory lapses are a pain

Published November 30. 2013 09:00AM

Being of a certain age, I'm having what is considered normal memory lapses. While my doctor assures me, these instances are not considered a warning for dementia, I worry about my mind.

I've spent many a moment wandering through my house looking for my glasses.

To counter the "missing keys" problem, I've learned to put my keys at the same place.

I've given up trying to remember names of acquaintances and have learned to admit defeat and ask them their names.

I haven't missed any appointments since I put everything into my phone.

When I have a conversation and get interrupted, I may forget where I was, but then I usually figure it probably wasn't important anyway and change the subject.

Oh, yes, it's also supposed to be normal when you forget what you wanted when you walked into the room or to become easily distracted.

It's all age-related.

I'm also told I should feel normal if I'm not able to retrieve information that I have on the tip of my tongue.

I am feeling exceeding normal.

I do worry sometimes that maybe I'm a little "too normal."

Should I have concerns about my memory?

Forgetfulness is a common complaint among us older adults. Wow, do you know it hurts to read that back to myself?

If you've started to talk about a movie you saw recently when you realize you can't remember the title, then you're normal. If you've giving directions to your house when you suddenly blank on a familiar street name, yes, again you are normal. If you find yourself standing in the middle of your kitchen wondering what you went in there for, normal ...

As we grow older, we experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions we've always taken for granted. It takes us longer to learn and recall information. We're not as quick as we used to be. In fact, we often mistake this slowing of our mental processes for true memory loss. But in most cases, if we give ourselves time, the information will come to mind.

Memory lapses can be frustrating, but most of the time they aren't cause for concern. Age-related memory changes are not the same thing as dementia.

My doctor said that the hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in the formation and retrieval of memories, often deteriorates with age. Also growth factors, hormones and proteins that protect and repair brain cells and stimulate neural growth, decline with age.

Older people often experience decreased blood flow to the brain, which can impair memory and lead to changes in cognitive skills.

But memory loss is not an inevitable part of the aging process

The brain is capable of producing new brain cells at any age, so significant memory loss is not an inevitable result of aging. But just as it is with muscle strength, you have to use it or lose it.

Don't mind me while I exercise my brain ... Now where did I put it???

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