WASHINGTON, DC, Feb 18 – Dementia is not an inevitable part of growing old. On the other hand, memory issues are, indeed, a part of the aging process.
A new study published in the journal, Trends in Cognitive Science, reveals that perhaps forgetfulness is a result of an overabundance of information we have stored in our brains, according to the authors of the review, Tarek Amer at Columbia and Harvard Universities and Jordana Wynn at Harvard. Their assessment asserts that: “Healthy aging is accompanied by declines in control of attention. These reductions in the control of attention result in older adults processing too much information, creating cluttered memory representations. Cluttered representations can impair memory by interfering with the retrieval of target information but can also provide an advantage on tasks that benefit from extensive knowledge.”
In other words, the older you are, the more information you have stored in your brain – so much information that it can interfere with your ability to remember. However, as someone once explained, it is normal to forget where you left your glasses; it is not normal to forget that you wear glasses. The Centers for Disease Control [CDC] says that forgetting things that can disrupt your life is not part of growing old.
The CDC says the risk factors for dementia include smoking, high blood pressure, not getting enough exercise, being overweight, trouble sleeping, isolation, and blood sugar levels and cites the British medical journal, The Lancet, which suggests that dealing with these risk factors can “prevent or delay” 40% of dementia cases.
There is a distinct difference between being absent-minded every so often and serious cognitive problems, according to the National Institutes of Health [NIH]. The NIH notes that “It’s normal to forget things once in a while as we age, but serious memory problems make it hard to do everyday things like driving, using the phone, and finding your way home.”
One can only report on the differences between “senior moments,” normal occasions of forgetfulness, and the potential of dementia. So, if you have too many forgetful moments, you should consult your health care provider.
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