Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Memory blackouts: when to worry?


Don’t remember turning at the usual crossroads, forgetting where the keys are, and entering the name of that famous actor wrong: small memory snags are more than normal especially with age, and if they’re not too frequent you don’t have to worry. But how do we distinguish it from more worrisome signs, such as early symptoms of dementia? When is the time to dig deeper?

Don’t think of the worst right away. The brain also ages: neurons shrink, maintain fewer active connections with each other, and hold fewer chemicals needed to send signals to other cells. However, not all memory lapses are related to aging. In many cases they are related to stress, anxiety, distraction, or a negative mood that makes it more difficult to focus.

So, in part, forgetting… is healthy: too much redundant information slows down the retrieval of “useful” memories and The brain decides for itself What is worth keeping and what is not. As described in ConversationAnd the The brain retains social information more easilyLike gossip) and forget abstract numbers (such as phone numbers) often.

observation phase. The transitional state between normal brain aging and dementia is called dementia Mild cognitive impairment. This condition includes subtle difficulty with one or more cognitive functions, for example memory, language or programming skills, and therefore greater problems completing complex tasks such as preparing a meal.

It does not necessarily worsen over time or lead to more serious illnesses: in some cases it remains stable in severity and in others it can improve (for example if it is related to anxiety or mood). But in 10-15% of cases, mild cognitive impairment is one of the harbingers of Alzheimer’s disease: if diagnosed in time, it can help better manage the disease and make plans for the future.

Getting lost is not a good sign. Another signal to watch out for is the ability to navigate spatially, which is one of the first functions lost in Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. The areas of the brain that retain the memory of the spaces we frequent are among the first to be affected by this disease: an increase in the frequency of getting lost is therefore a symptom that must be taken seriously.


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