June 20, 2013 | 09:24 AM (BD Time)
20 June, 2013 Thursday
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Memory loss in old age
Subrina Yasmin, Mehruba Sharmin and Tania Tasnin:
It's normal to forget things every now and then. As we grow older, we experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions we've always taken for granted. It takes longer time to learn and recall information. We're not as quick as we used to be. In fact, we often mistake this slowing of our mental processes for true memory loss. But in most cases, if we give ourselves time, the information will come to mind.Scientists have found that a lessened supply of new nerve cells in the adult brain apparently triggers short-term memory loss typically associated with aging, setting the stage for one day developing therapies designed to maintain a steady supply of fresh neurons to keep the mind sharp.
"Neurogenesis (nerve-cell production) goes down with age … it's known that with old age there's a decrease in short- term memory," says Ronald Evans, a genetics professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.
There are some causes for age-related memory loss, such as:
The hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in the formation and retrieval of memories, often deteriorates with age.
Growth factors-hormones and proteins that protect and repair brain cells and stimulate neural growth-decline with age.
Older people often experience decreased blood flow to the brain, which can impair memory and lead to changes in cognitive skills.
Older people are less efficient at absorbing brain-enhancing nutrients.
According to Wikipedia, people commonly associate memory lapses in their mid-30s, 40s, or 50s as they approach later adulthood. Issues in memory can be linked to several physical and psychological causes, such as: anxiety, dehydration, depression, infections, medication side effects, poor nutrition, vitamin B12 deficiency, psychological stress, substance abuse, chronic alcoholism, thyroid imbalances, and blood clots in the brain.
Taking care of your body and mind with appropriate medication, doctoral check-ups, and daily mental and physical exercise can avoid unwanted memory issues.
Some memory issues are due to stress, anxiety, or depression. A traumatic life event, such as the death of a spouse, can lead to changes in lifestyle and can leave an elderly person feeling unsure of themselves sad, and lonely.
Dealing with such drastic life changes can therefore leave some people confused or forgetful. While in some cases these feelings may fade, it is important to take these emotional problems seriously. By emotionally supporting a struggling relative and seeking help from a doctor or counselor, the forgetfulness can be improved.
Caring for an adult with memory issues can be a day to day struggle. Every task can become an extreme chore if not approached and handled correctly. By keeping the patient active, focusing on their positive abilities, and avoiding stress, these tasks can easily be accomplished. The most important thing to remember when caring for an adult with memory issues is to give them independence in a respectful manner.
Finding tasks for them, keeping their mind busy, and rewarding them for a job well done will promote a desire for mentally stimulating activities.
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