MCI is the intermediate stage between regular memory lapse and dementia. It`s not as bad as the latter, but it`s certainly more than just an age-related oversight. Maybe you feel like you`re losing names of people, objects, and places more often than you did a few years ago. The truth is, well, you probably are, Schindler says. Give yourself a break about it, because this kind of memory wear is to be expected. Memory loss can be one of the symptoms of Alzheimer`s disease, dementia, or even amnesia, but that doesn`t always mean you have any of those age-related memory loss issues. The aging process is very complicated and brings with it many problems that can affect your quality of life, and if you do not know when and where to see a doctor, you could be at risk. But if you`re worried about these or other similar cases of forgetfulness or memory loss, you`re not alone. Subtle changes in memory occur naturally as part of the aging process. Although working memory is associated with activity in several places in your brain, it has its load limits. Your working memory can only store a limited amount of information at a time. Some research estimates that most healthy young adults have a working memory capacity of about three or four simple things, such as buying airline tickets or the name of the new person you just met. Hence this nagging feeling that you`re forgetting something from that endless mental to-do list you created yesterday.
If all this sounds incredibly familiar, you`re not alone. Random brain farts like this happen to many of us. In a 2014 study published in the journal PLOS ONE, 14.4% of 4,425 18- to 39-year-olds surveyed reported having memory problems. In addition, sleep loss or anxiety can contribute to temporary memory loss. Many of these cases are all a normal part of aging. So unless memory loss is extreme and persistent, none of these errors are an indicator of dementia. Although the link is not yet fully understood, brain changes associated with depression can affect memory. One theory is that glutamate, a neurotransmitter central to learning and memory, may be involved in depression. In general, you want to see a doctor as soon as you show signs of memory lapses.
Even if it is an age-related issue, you should always seek professional advice. If you are concerned about your memory loss or that of a loved one, the first step is to make an appointment with a memory professional. Alzheimer`s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases cannot be diagnosed by a single memory test. When you come to the tests for memory lapses, the doctor will likely ask: Scientists aren`t sure how many people get MCI. Estimates range from 1% (about 350,000 in 2000) to 26% (about 9.1 million in 2000) of Americans 65+. For some people, MCI represents a transition period between the mild and manageable memory problems associated with normal aging and the debilitating symptoms of AD. Estimates vary, but a number of studies suggest that about 10% of people with some type of memory-related MCI develop AD each year. Summa Health explains why we experience memory loss as we age, when it`s normal, and when it`s time to talk to your doctor.
It`s important to know the difference, as early detection of memory problems is the key to better outcomes. You can also make an appointment if you`re struggling to keep track of the calendar date or repeat yourself over and over again in the conversation. «The type of memory loss that becomes worrisome is not an isolated event,» says Knopman. «It`s persistent.» Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a term used to describe a more severe type of memory loss. Like those who age normally, people with MCI may complain that their memory is not what it used to be, and their loved ones might agree. But in addition to these general complaints, they also score worse on some memory tests than others in their age group. However, unlike Alzheimer`s disease and other forms of dementia, people with MCI do not have impaired judgment. Aging aside, here are the most common reasons why one would experience memory loss: The time to worry about memory loss is when it starts interfering with your ability to function on a daily basis. It`s also normal to temporarily forget someone`s name, struggle to retrieve words, or call your child by the wrong name. This is called a brain block, where a memory is stored properly, but something is preventing you from finding it.
In most cases, the blocked memory is similar to another and you get the wrong one back. The question is, how do you know if your memory loss is strictly age-related or something more serious? There are, of course, cases where memory lapses could be a sign of an underlying medical problem. This 2014 PLOS ONE study looked at various risk factors for self-reported memory impairment (i.e., when people thought they had memory problems), including high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking. Of all the risk factors, depression was the most strongly associated with people who experienced memory problems. Experiencing memory lapses can be very scary. We know only too well how easy it is to panic at the slightest sign of dementia or Alzheimer`s.