As we age, it's common to experience some degree of forgetfulness. Misplacing keys or struggling to recall names are typical age-related memory changes and are not usually cause for concern, according to Carmen Carrión, an assistant professor of neurology at Yale School of Medicine. Even though memory loss is often associated with older individuals, we actually start losing neurons in our 30s, explains Dr. Michael Rosenbloom, a neurologist at the UW Medicine Memory and Brain Wellness Center. As we get older, our ability to learn and remember becomes less efficient, but this is considered a normal part of the aging process.
However, certain forms of memory loss can indicate larger issues. Neurologists have identified signs of abnormal memory loss that should be taken seriously. These signs include an inability to learn new things, difficulty with tasks that used to be easy, quickly forgetting conversations, getting lost in familiar places, repeating stories often, and loved ones expressing concern about your memory.
While forgetfulness after some time has passed is normal, forgetting conversations within minutes or hours is not. Memory loss during pregnancy and postpartum, commonly known as "mom brain," is temporary and not concerning. However, persistent or severe cognitive issues associated with postpartum depression or anxiety should be discussed with a healthcare professional.
It's important not to panic if you experience memory loss, as it doesn't always mean you have Alzheimer's or dementia. Factors such as medications and hearing loss can contribute to memory issues. Taking care of your overall health, including managing medical illnesses and engaging in regular exercise and a nutritious diet, can help reduce the risk of problematic memory loss.
If you are concerned about memory loss, it's crucial to seek early detection and diagnosis from a healthcare provider. Ignoring significant and abnormal memory loss can delay potential treatments and management of conditions like Alzheimer's disease.
In conclusion, while some degree of memory loss is normal as we age, certain signs should not be ignored. It's important to take care of your overall health and seek medical advice if you or a loved one experiences concerning memory issues.