Memory is a fickle ability of our brain to retain information and reproduce it when needed. Most of us forget some things from time to time, but as we age, our ability to hold on to memories deteriorates. Although most aged people do not have a debilitating effect on their memory, you may notice that forgetfulness interferes with the daily functioning of some elderly adults. Memory problems can be noticed when an elderly adult leaves doors completely open or even forgets to switch off the stove, events that can have serious implications on personal safety.
Short-term and long-term memory
Short-term memory is generally information about routine events that lose their importance in the near future. Memories of what you had for breakfast or the face of the last person you saw are short-term memories. This kind of memory is markedly more fragile than long term memory which includes events from early childhood or young adulthood. There have been cases in which patients of Alzheimer’s disease cannot remember the last thing they said, but they can vividly describe an event that happened decades ago. To assess the health of a person’s memory, you need to pay special attention towards short term memory.
Gradual developments and various causes
Degradation in memory occurs gradually as people age, and it takes years to get to a point when it begins to interfere with the daily life of an individual. Also there are simply too many factors besides age that can contribute towards the mental health of an individual. Depression, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, effects of medication and other such conditions can increase the rate of loss of memory. Many times, identification and treatment of the underlying cause can help protect the memory.
When to be concerned?
It is normal for elderly people to take more time to retrieve information and even narrate a particular story multiple times with the subconscious intent of trying to find meaning in past events. But dramatic changes in behavior, such as a sudden episode of confusion and agitation is one of the primary markers of memory problems. Elderly adults suffering from a bout of delirium often have trouble paying attention and going with the flow of a logical conversation. They may also be disoriented with their location and the time of the day, and appear sleepy. Ensure that you notify a healthcare professional at the earliest so that they may diagnose the aged adult for underlying problems related to memory’s health.