A little forgetfulness is a common trait in women experiencing postmenopause and in aging people in general. However, there are also more serious conditions that sometimes occur with age. To make sure you don't confuse normal memory lapses with dementia, read on for descriptions of both conditions. If you think you have dementia, it is important to see your doctor, who will be able to accurately diagnose any condition you have and prescribe the necessary treatments.
Types of Memory
There are different kinds of memory that can be impacted in different ways with age.
This is the capacity to remember information for a few moments only. This is the type of memory you use when you read a telephone number, for instance, and then dial it. Short-term memory is where memory is stored before the brain decides to either move it to long-term memory or forget it.
This is the capacity to remember things that happened in the past, and includes any memory that has not been formed in the past few minutes. Long-term memory does not stay the same; it is constantly being manipulated and changed by the brain as new information influences pre-existing memories.
The process of memory lapses actually begins in young adulthood. When you're in your twenties, brains cells slowly begin to die and the brain very gradually slows production of the compounds that aid in your thought processes. These changes may make it more difficult for you to recall information as you grow older, which is usually nothing to worry about. Words lingering on the tip of your tongue and misplacing your car keys every now and then are usually normal signs of aging and nothing to worry about.
Signs of Normal Memory Lapses
These signs happen to nearly everyone from time to time and are not cause for concern:
- Short attention span
- Slowed thinking process
- The need for more stimuli (photos, scents, phrases) to remember facts
Unlike normal memory lapses, dementia has a set of symptoms that impact long-term memory and severely interfere with your daily routine. These symptoms may lead to the diagnosis of a specific condition, such as Alzheimer's disease or Lewy body disease. Other causes of dementia include Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Signs of Dementia
These symptoms may indicate dementia:
- Being constantly forgetful
- Repeating the same information many times during the course of a conversation
- Differences in personality and behavior
- Inability to complete complex tasks
- Inability to make decisions
If you or a loved one exhibit any of these signs of dementia, you should talk to a physician about diagnosis. He or she may recommend a complete medical or physical evaluation, a brain scan, or an MRI.
Most memory lapses are nothing to worry about and are a normal part of the aging process. Although dementia can be a scary prospect, it is important to seek a diagnosis and treatment if you think you may have it. Click on the following link to read more about memory lapses.