Unwittingly, a man walks up to the doorway of a friend to leave a note. As he approaches the door, a friendly white-haired woman approaches him. She starts a conversation as if they are old friends and invites him into her home. As they walk to the door, she introduces herself for the third time in less than five minutes. As she reaches the door, she looks back at the stranger and says, “What is your name again?… My son told me not to invite strangers into my home, but you look so nice.”
Why would this obviously elderly woman talk so freely to a stranger and invite him into her home when she has been told, by her son, and is aware that it is not wise to do so? What signs has she shown to the stranger that she is an easy target? These are some of the questions one should ask of our love ones as they age and exhibit the onset of cognitive decline, most notably memory loss. This, my second blog article, will address memory loss in the wake of the inevitable we all face… aging.
Is Memory Loss Inevitable as we Age?
What Are Some Of The Suspected Causes Of Memory Decline?
The surprising answer is no. It was once thought that as we age our brains naturally lose its function and in turn our memory. However, recent research paints a different picture of cognitive decline. The onset of elderly memory changes are caused by the same lesions found in Alzheimer’s disease and other progressive dementias (Rush University Medical Center, 2010). The researchers found that these lesions were the cause of rapid memory decline in the ageing, most notably, in their last few years. Interestingly, a mild memory decline is also associated with pathology related to Alzheimer’s disease. Prompt diagnosis before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and related pathologies may lead to early treatment options as they are developed.
Aside from the aforementioned pathology, mini ‘silent’ strokes are a suspected cause in some cases of memory ebb found in older adults (American Academy of Neurology, 2011). It seems that these silent strokes as well as hippocampal shrinkage may be the culprit. Moreover, the findings suggest that even persons without hippocampal shrinkage suffered memory decline at the fate of these silent strokes.
What Can We Do About Memory Loss?
What can be done to help stave the beginning of memory loss in later years? One study suggest quit smoking (Northumbria University ,2011). But what about those whom do not smoke? Dr. Petersen (2011) suggests that exercise may help avert memory decline and onset Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise of at least 30 to 60 minutes a day may improve memory function, reasoning skills, and thinking – not to mention all the other health benefits associated with exercise. Research suggests that exercise help to improve blood flow, which in turn aids in the delivery of nutrients and chemical in the brain associated with countering memory loss.
Thus, it seems that memory decline may not be an inevitable part of aging. There are things we can do to detect and possibly prevent memory loss. Early detection and a healthy lifestyle are two relatively easy things we can do to help keep our memories. Memory is an integral part of cognitive psychology. Almost every aspect of the field involves some study in memory from how it defines who we are to memory retention. Memory and memory loss affects us all.
As for the friendly white-haired woman introduced at the beginning of this blog, it might be too late. However, as the rest of us keeping abreast of new information and breaking studies – like this web site – will keep us aware and ready for life’s little changes.
American Academy of Neurology (2011). New clues as to why some older people may be losing their memory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2011/12/111229092038.htm
Northumbria University (2011). Stopping smoking boosts everyday memory, research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2011/09/110920095253.htm
Petersen R., (2011). Alzheimer’s disease: Can exercise prevent memory loss? Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers-disease/AN02026
Rush University Medical Center (2010). Mild memory loss is not a part of normal aging, new research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/09/100915162547.htm
- What Causes Dementia (allthingsdementia.com)
- US sets 2025 target to win battle against Alzheimer’s disease (todayonline.com)
- Is there a link between sleep problems and memory loss? (time4sleep.co.uk)
- Roche’s Genentech to Take Part in First-ever Alzheimer’s Prevention Trial (biospace.com)
- Omega-3 may curb memory loss, study says (elderoptionsoftexas.wordpress.com)
- 7 Alzheimer’s Disease Myths: Risk Factors, Memory Loss, Prevention, and More (webmd.com)
- How A Greater Purpose In Life Protects Your Memory and Other Thinking Skills (deretornoacasa.wordpress.com)
- Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease (bangordailynews.com)
- US adopts strategy to fight Alzheimer’s Disease (nzherald.co.nz)
- Reducing brain activity improves memory after cognitive decline (eurekalert.org)
- Reduction of excess brain activity improves memory in some cases (scienceblog.com)