It’s completely normal to have a latent fear of dementia and Alzheimer’s as you progress in age. Nearly six-million Americans could be living with it, and the risk goes up with age.
That can make even the slightest memory slip seem like a big deal. Forgetting where you put the keys, the details of the family trip to Greece, or struggling to release the answer sitting on the tip of your tongue can all send you into a deep frenzy.
What’s worse is that family members can get on you about it, making you feel stupid or like imminent mental decline is around the corner. Even comments meant as jokes can cut deep.
But should you be concerned about any and every memory slip you experience? Most certainly not. Memory loss isn’t always about declining brain power or abilities. Sometimes it’s just chalked up to experience, interest, or a lack of space.
Real-estate in your brain is limited. Sometimes memories get replaced, downgraded, or become less clear because other information has replaced them. So, if you can’t recall the names of the other couple with who you’ve had dinner with a few times at your brother’s house in the past, don’t sweat it. This is not information that your brain is prioritizing.
The less you need to use a memory, the more likely you are to forget it. Completely normal.
Have you ever found the television remote in the fridge or your keys on your nightstand? Of course you have. It happens. The reason why is that you weren’t paying attention to where you put them.
For example, you put the remote down to grab the juice at the back of the fridge. Maybe your socks were wet when you got inside, and you went right upstairs to change when you arrived home and left the keys. It’s called absentmindedness, and it happens to everybody,
There are a handful of types of memory loss—or let’s call them blips—that don’t indicate a significant problem. Suppose they are happening regularly and you’re struggling to remember important information, who close friends and family are, or finding yourself getting lost in familiar areas. In that case, it may indicate a cause for concern.
In the meantime, work to keep your mind active by engaging with others, performing stimulating activities, getting regular exercise, and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.