Many people, especially older adults, worry about memory loss. While no one is safe from the occasional lapsus, regardless of age, it’s true that people often become more forgetful in later stages of life. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are suffering more serious cognitive decline, experts say.
The following text is based on information by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It does not, however, constitute any form of medical advice or diagnosis, and you should not rely on it as a substitute for actual guidance or proper diagnosis from your doctor. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider if you or a relative are suffering memory loss.
There is now growing evidence suggesting that many chronic health conditions are somehow linked to memory loss. A recent CDC study found that people who suffer one or more chronic health conditions are more prone to report more frequent or worsening memory problems, which this source also refers to as subjective cognitive decline (SCD).
The report observed several chronic conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, asthma, chronic pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease. Of all them, subjective cognitive decline rates were more common among sufferers of COPD, heart disease and people who had had a stroke.
Even if little is known about how conditions related to cognitive decline originate, researchers believe that some habits known to be healthy and prevent other conditions can reduce the risk for subjective-cognitive decline (SCD). They already protect you against heart disease, diabetes or some cancers, and may have a protective effect in the brain as well. The rundown is this: keeping your body healthy can also help your brain stay healthy too.
Per the CDC, these measures include quitting smoking, preventing and managing high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight is also important, just like getting enough sleep, limiting your alcohol intake and controlling your blood sugar levels. Finally, it’s crucial to stay socially engaged to prevent isolation.
When it comes to forgetfulness, it can be hard to distinguish normal memory slips from more concerning signs. As the CDC state, it’s only natural to forget things as we grow older, as it is a normal part of the aging process. More serious memory problems that get in the way more noticeably and prevent you from doing simple activities like talking over the phone, driving or finding your way to work or back home may signal something more serious is happening, experts explain.
The National Institute of Aging site mentions some signs that may be concerning enough to visit a doctor, like repeatedly asking the same questions, becoming confused about people, places or time, struggling to follow instructions or disoriented in familiar places.