Have you ever been surprised that you forgot for a while what you were doing, or what you ate a while ago, or who you were going to call when you picked up the phone, or other things that we may sometimes forget for a few moments as if they were erased from our memories!
Sometimes, or perhaps in many events in daily life, one may ask whether memory lapses are normal, or are they a sign of cognitive decline or are they the beginning stages of dementia.
For example, a person can use the elevator to reach his home for many years, and one day he stands confused in front of the number plate trying to remember which floor he will go up to! Or another person has been using a specific route to get home from work every day for years, and one time he stops at a section trying to remember whether he needs to turn right or left!
Brain cells shrink
According to a report prepared by Oliver Bowman, Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences in the School of Psychology at Bond University and Cindy Jones, and published by the website Science AlertInstinctively, the first answer could be that it happens because the brain deteriorates, and just like the rest of the body, brain cells shrink with age. They also maintain fewer connections with other nerve cells and store fewer chemicals needed to send messages to other nerve cells.
But not all memory lapses are caused by age-related changes in neurons in the human brain. In many cases, there are less significant factors that temporarily affect memory such as fatigue, anxiety or distractibility.
Bowman says it has been scientifically proven that the structure of the human memory system works in such a way that it is natural to forget to a certain degree, which is actually an advantage rather than a defect. Holding on to all memories and details can drain your metabolism, and accumulating too much unnecessary information can slow or hinder the retrieval of certain memories. It remains that the ability to decide what is important and to remember is not critically available, because the brain generally prefers social information and ignores abstract information such as numbers in particular.
Memory loss becomes a problem when it begins to affect normal daily life. It is not a big problem if the person does not remember turning right or left, but forgetting that he is driving the car or how to drive then there is an abnormal condition, and attention should be paid to the need to consult a doctor urgently.
The path between memory loss associated with aging and the more troubling amnesia has been formulated as mild cognitive impairment. The degree of vulnerability can remain stable, improve, or worsen. But it does point to an increased risk (about three to five times) of future neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, which annually about 10-15% of people with mild cognitive impairment develop dementia.
Language and decision making
Bowman explains that for people with mild cognitive impairment, the ability to do usual activities is affected more and more gradually over time. Besides memory loss, it can be accompanied by other problems with language, thinking, and decision-making skills.
A diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment can be a double-edged sword. It confirms the fears of older people that their amnesia is abnormal. It also raises fears of him developing dementia. But it can also lead to exploration of potential treatment and planning for the future.
Bowman points out that there is a belief that a decline in the ability to remember routes, routes and addresses (the way to home or workplace) is an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common type of dementia. MRI studies have shown that regions critically supporting memories of the spatial environment are the first to be affected by this degenerative disease. Therefore, a marked increase in the incidence of not remembering the route or getting lost in the roads could be a warning sign of more obvious and widespread difficulties in the future.
Given the predictive association between declines in route and address recall and dementia, there is an incentive to develop and use standardized tests to detect deficiencies as early as possible.
Currently, the scientific literature outlines different approaches, ranging from pen-and-paper tests and virtual reality, to real-life navigation, but there is no definitively proven standard yet.
asking for help
Bowman concludes that while everyday memory lapses should not lead to worrying about them unnecessarily, it would be wise to seek the advice of a GP or specialist, when they become more frequent or more noticeable and persistent.
While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, early detection will allow for planning ahead and for more targeted management of the problem and reducing its risks.