Aging brings with it a lot of different challenges, including difficulties around memory. What can be a little frightening is figuring out what’s a normal part of memory and aging and what is a situation that you need to investigate further.
Forgetfulness and Aging
Plain old forgetfulness is a common part of the aging process, although it can be anxiety-inducing when you start encountering it more often. This type of memory loss can encompass things like forgetting where you left the TV remote or your keys, especially if you were distracted by something else at the time. It can take longer to learn new information and to recall new information after you have learned it. That is part of what is considered normal when it comes to aging and memory loss.
Language and Verbal Intelligence
Verbal intelligence and memory around language is another part of brain health that changes as you age. You may find it is more difficult to remember someone’s name when you haven’t seen them in a long time, for instance. Or you might have a tough time remembering a word occasionally, finding that it is just out of reach. Some people find that as they age it is more difficult to remember how to correctly pronounce words or keep up with the various rules involved in language and sentence formation.
Executive function covers a lot of ground, and when you are talking about memory and aging, you are looking at things like planning, solving problems in creative ways, dealing with multitasking, and being able to track time. Your executive functioning can take a hit over time, making it more difficult to handle normal tasks. Often having supportive solutions, like to-do lists and timers, can go a long way toward helping with these challenges.
Reaction time is not something that a lot of people consider when thinking about memory loss, but it is important. There is a lot of cognitive functioning involved in reacting quickly and correctly to various stimuli, and as you age, that cognitive functioning changes. As a result, your reaction times can slow down a lot more than you expect. This can affect daily tasks like driving way more than you are prepared to experience.
Cognitive Changes that Aren’t Normal
When you are thinking about what types of memory issues are normal as you age, it is also helpful to consider the changes that are abnormal. Forgetting things that just happened is not a normal part of memory loss with aging. Extreme aphasia, or having trouble finding common words often, is a big issue. Forgetting to do complicated tasks like taking care of bills, cooking, and managing medication are also signs of cognitive changes that may not be normal.
Memory and Aging Concerns
Learning about what types of memory concerns are a part of normal aging and which aren’t is crucial in helping you to manage memory loss appropriately. When you can take the anxiety out of what you’re experiencing, it is a lot easier to take the approach that is most likely to meet your needs and help you the most.