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Forgetful after 40: Age Associated Memory Impairment or Alzheimer’s?

June 1, 2011

The Forgetful Forties – is it normal or are we losing our minds?

  • “Where’s my keys!” you cry, running a few minutes late for work.
  • “They’re right here where you left them last night, on the kitchen counter!” your partner says, jingling them in front of you.
  • “Gimme those!” You reach out, wrap your fingers around them, and crunch them into your fist.
  • “Honey, why can’t you just keep them on the key hook?” she says, for the second time this week.
  • “I forgot!” you grumble, turning the door knob to leave, wondering if you could ever make it on your own.

Absent-mindedness is a middle-aged male problem

Research shows women come out best in listening and recollection tests. Older men are more susceptible to absent-mindedness than women. At the age of 50, women’s verbal memory outperforms men at that age by a significant margin.

People with age-associated memory impairment:

  • Are independent in daily activities
  • Can remember having incidents of forgetfulness
  • Are more concerned about forgetfulness than are their friends and family
  • Recall important events and conversations
  • Have occasional difficulty finding words
  • Don’t get lost in familiar places but may need a minute to find the way
  • Maintain their usual level of social skills
  • Perform acceptably on mental status exams

People with Alzheimer’s, or symptoms of dementia:

  • Become dependent on others for activities of daily living
  • Family and friends become more concerned about memory loss
  • Lose conversational ability and memory for recent events
  • Pause frequently to find words
  • Get lost in places that are familiar, possibly taking hours to find home
  • Have difficulty operating familiar appliances, unable to learn new ones
  • Lose interest in socializing and may behave inappropriately

Fighting memory impairment: 10 strategies that will help!

  1. Mental activity: engage in cognitive activities like crossword puzzles, studying a language, learning a new hobby, reading, and maintaining regular social interactions.
  2. Physical activity: gets more blood to the brain and promotes better mental functioning.
  3. Rule out other causes:  depression, hearing or vision loss, thyroid dysfunction, certain medications, vitamin deficiencies, and heavy alcohol consumption. Smoking may impair mental function by damaging the blood vessels that supply nutrients to the brain.
  4. Place items in the same spot when not using them.
  5. Write things down: phone numbers, appointments, and to-do lists.
  6. Speak words out loud to help you recall them later. Verbalize people’s names after you have met them, for example.
  7. Use mnemonics when memorizing lists, names, addresses, and so on. Try grouping them using an acronym, a word made from the  first letters of a series of words, for example, NATO, or “Every Good Boy Does Fine” for E-G-B-D-F, the treble-clef notes on music sheets.
  8. More strategies: keep a pen and a few post-its on you. Use apps on your cell phone, a wristwatch alarm, and or even a voice recorder.
  9. Create a visual: associate an image in your mind to make the information more vivid and, therefore, more memorable.
  10. Use a relaxation technique: deep breathing or muscle relaxing exercises, will help when stress or distraction is making you forget.

Finally, here’s a good noteas we age we get experience. That’s why middle-age people can run circles around younger folks in many areas!

References:

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