A lot of people start paying more and more attention to their memory blips as they get older and may chalk it up to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. Most people don’t remember when they were 20 years old and continually forgetting what they went upstairs for or where they dropped their purse off when they got in the house. All of a sudden, in your 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s, the fear of getting dementia sits in the back of your mind hanging over any episode of forgetting a word, forgetting to call your sister, or forgetting what you just read in the paper. It is important not to freak out just yet! Just as when you were younger, there are a lot of reasons that our memory slips from situation to situation.
Interest is a factor that affects our ability to remember things. Just think about when you were younger and sitting in school listening to a lecture you just couldn’t care less about. Comparatively to a subject you were interested in, which lecture was easier to remember? The subject you were interested in. Another factor that affects memory is focus. When you are distracted by something else whether it’s something that is going on in the same room or something that happened at home, if you’re thinking about something else, it’s much harder to remember the things that are happening right in front of you. And then there is stress. Big. Bad. Stress. If you are stressing over your memory, you’re likely to forget more than if you just relaxed. Stress does a lot of bad things to our bodies, and its effects on memory are just one of them.
Now don’t get me wrong, your general memory and ability to remember different things does naturally decline as you age. This is completely normal. But the only time for concern is when these memory blips start to affect your ability to function in everyday life. Now it is time to visit your doctor.
There are a couple of changes that may indicate you are experiencing abnormal cognitive and memory changes. When you start to notice these, it is time to go see your doctor. These are the 7 Changes of Cognition:
- Changes in memory that affect day-to-day activities like losing your wallet and putting your purse in the microwave
- Changes in language abilities, often forgetting words and using words that don’t work in a sentence
- Changes in the ability to make sound judgement like wearing the proper clothes for the weather
- Changes in mood, behaviour, and personality like going from easy-going to very uptight and hot tempered or from engaging in activities to becoming more recluse
- Changes in the ability to perform familiar tasks like preparing your signature dish
- Changes in orientation like not knowing where you are or what time, month or year it is
- Changes in abstract thinking like understanding complex concepts and using and understanding metaphors
If you do start to experience the 7 Changes of Cognition, you should go see your doctor.