Memory and Aging – What’s Normal and What’s Not

Valerie PatmintraCognitive Aging

As we age, our brains age too. Cognitive aging is a natural process with both positive and negative effects and the effects vary widely from person to person. While your wisdom, expertise and vocabulary increase with age, other abilities like processing speed, decision-making and some types of memory may decline with age. This causes many older people to worry about their memory and wonder if their forgetfulness is normal or not. 

Taking longer than before to learn a new thing, forgetting which word to use or losing things from time to time are usually signs of mild forgetfulness and often a normal part of aging. Serious memory problems make it hard to complete everyday tasks, like driving and shopping. Asking the same questions repeatedly, getting lost in familiar places, not being able to follow instructions and becoming confused about time, people and places may also be signs of a serious memory problem. 

Be sure to talk with your doctor to determine if the changes happening with your memory are normal and what is causing them. 

Visit the National Institute on Aging website to learn more about memory, forgetfulness and aging.

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