It’s no secret that the body goes through a lot of changes with age. At first, you may notice a little more sagging or wrinkles in places they hadn’t appeared before. But, more alarmingly, you may find yourself forgetting more things than you used to.
In reality, the brain typically starts processing at slightly slower speeds with advancing age. This can definitely make certain things more challenging, like multitasking. However, you shouldn’t consider anything associated with your memory or brain function a normal part of aging. Instead, talk to a provider you can trust.
The team at Healthstone Primary Care offers geriatric care services designed for the unique needs and concerns of aging adults. This specialized approach ensures that we can help you detect a potential problem and provide personalized strategies to help you thrive.
Here’s how aging can affect your memory and signs your symptoms could be due to an underlying issue.
Aging and the brain
Like most parts of the body, the brain undergoes specific changes because of the aging process, such as:
- Certain parts shrink, especially those associated with learning and complex mental activities
- Communication between nerve cells may not be as effective in certain areas
- Blood flow can decrease
- Inflammation can increase
As you might expect, these changes can impact a person’s mental function, even if they were once good at it. For example, it may take a person longer to learn a new task, find a word, or recall a name.
But there are positive things that happen to the brain as well.
For one, it’s common for older adults to have better vocabularies and a greater depth of understanding of words. The brain can still continue to change and adapt, and that means you can still learn new things, face fresh challenges, and make new memories as you age.
Dementia and the brain
Forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, occur because of abnormal changes in the brain that damage cells. These issues arise for several reasons, depending on the type of dementia. For example, the second most common cause of dementia — vascular dementia — involves microscopic bleeding and blood vessel blockage in the brain.
Because of the cell damage in the brain, dementia triggers a decline in someone’s ability to think, feel, or behave. This can become severe enough to impair daily life, limit independence, and affect feelings, behavior, and relationships.
While there isn’t a cure for dementia, the condition can be reduced or delayed if addressed early, so it’s essential to talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
Signs of a memory problem
Everyone experiences aging differently, so it can be tricky to determine what seems normal, especially with our mental abilities. Fortunately, there are a few things you can watch for and bring to your doctor’s attention.
Common signs of dementia often include:
- Being unable to recall details from recent conversations or events
- Not recognizing family members or knowing their names
- Pausing frequently to find words or substituting other words instead
- Forgetting things, like events or appointments, more frequently
- Problems paying bills, keeping track of wallets/purses, or planning or preparing meals
- Traveling out of the neighborhood or getting lost in familiar places
It’s also common for people with a memory problem to have friends or family members who voice concerns about these symptoms.
Our Healthstone Primary Care team knows it can be scary to experience forgetfulness or memory changes. However, we can help ease your mind by determining if there’s truly a cause for concern. And remember, the sooner we detect an issue, the faster we can provide interventions to manage your condition.
Are you an older adult? We can address all of your health concerns at Healthstone Primary Care. To get the care you need, book an appointment online or over the phone with Healthstone Primary Care today.