Memory Loss – What Is Normal?
As we grow older, we often notice that our memory is not as sharp as it once was where memory loss becomes more common. Forgetting things like where we left our glasses or why we have gone upstairs can be a normal part of ageing, and many people find they are not quite as ‘quick-witted’ as they used to be. But if memory problems begin to cause problems in our daily lives, it is probably time to seek medical advice.
Ageing and Memory Loss
Memory can be affected by many things, including ageing. Tiredness, stress, certain medications and some illnesses can all cause problems in recalling information for various reasons. It is normal for memory to decline slightly as we get older, and many people experience difficulty in learning and remembering new information. Failing to remember a word that is on the ‘tip of the tongue’ is also very common, and sometimes we speak less fluently than we did when we were younger. Normal ageing also often involves slower reaction times and more difficulty with problem solving in situations that are unusual, although everyday tasks are not affected.
Conditions such as anxiety, depression and stress can also cause memory problems, although doctors believe that this type of memory loss is due to failure to notice things because of a lack of interest and poor concentration. In cases like this, treating the underlying cause can often improve memory function. Lack of sleep can also make memory problems worse.
Other illnesses that can less commonly cause memory problems include an under-active thyroid, subarachnoid haemorrhage, brain tumour and vitamin B1 deficiency. Some medications taken for Parkinson’s disease and some sedatives can also cause memory loss.
Serious Memory Problems
When memory problems begin to affect our day-to-day life, we need to seek help from health care professionals. If carrying out tasks such as paying bills, shopping or driving begin to become difficult, it could be an indication of a more serious memory problem such as early dementia. Dementia can eventually cause people to struggle with even simple tasks such as washing or dressing, so getting help as early as possible is important.
Keeping an Active Mind
Eating healthily can lower the risk of dementia, as can reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems by treating high blood pressure, for example. People who engage in plenty of social activities are also less likely to develop dementia than people who live alone and do not socialise. Activities such as reading, doing crossword puzzles, playing board games and playing musical instruments can also help to delay the onset of dementia.
People who are suffering from serious dementia will often benefit from admission to residential care homes. In specialised dementia care homes, such as two which are operated by Balcombe Care Homes, residents can benefit not just from everyday care and support, but also from programmes of activity designed to stimulate memory and keep them mentally active. Playing games, participating in quizzes and many other activities organised in the home can make a huge difference to how someone with dementia is able to enjoy life. Dementia care homes also help to keep residents physically active, and the everyday social interaction with staff and other residents is very beneficial to them.