Again forget the house key, start the stove or forget the password? Sometimes memory leaves us in the lurch, whether old or young. If the dropo
Again forget the house key, start the stove or forget the password? Sometimes memory leaves us in the lurch, whether old or young. If the dropouts occur only occasionally, that is no cause for concern. On the contrary, forgetfulness can even be a sign of intelligence, say Canadian researchers. But what causes behind memory disorders and when are they morbid?
Forgetfulness helps the brain to prioritize
Even if forgetfulness is annoying and makes our everyday life difficult, it fulfills an important medical function. It keeps the brain’s back free, as it filters out a flood of data, which information is important. Information that the brain wants to keep for a long time, gets into the long-term memory. What is needed only in the short term, such as the shopping list or the storage location of reading glasses, is temporarily anchored in short-term memory.
If you forget a lot, you make better decisions
For the Canadian brain researcher Paul Frankland and Blake Richards of the University of Toronto, forgetfulness is not just a sign of intelligence, it even determines how good we are at making meaningful decisions. Their statements are based on a study that they published in the journal “Neuron” (7/2017).
Thus, people can adapt faster to new situations, if they “delete” inconsequential things from the memory and mental details quickly get rid of minor details. The prime example is the scattered professor. The bottom line is that it is easier to face new experiences and make better decisions if you have not memorized every detail of the past.
Memory is subject to fluctuations
How well the memory of a healthy person works generally depends on many factors and is characterized by fluctuations. These are related to the personal condition and daily form of each person. Stress, fatigue, mental stress and physical exertion contribute to concentration problems, which often lead to forgetfulness.
In such situations word finding disorders occur frequently, appointments are forgotten or objects are misplaced. However, this form of memory impairment, which mainly affects short-term memory, is usually temporary. Nevertheless, you should not take a bad memory lightly. Because forgetfulness is a symptom behind which complex clinical pictures can also be found.
When forgetfulness becomes disease
If there are more frequent memory lapses, the cause should be clarified by a doctor. Dementia is virtually eliminated in younger people . According to the German Alzheimer’s Association less than two percent of all dementias fall to the age of 65 years.
However, other diseases may be the reason for increasing forgetfulness. Thus, thyroid disorders and diseases of the central nervous system such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s often associated with forgetfulness and memory problems. Depression and anxiety disorders also have a negative effect on memory performance and reduce the ability to concentrate. The same applies to hormone disorders, such as menopause. Likewise, alcohol, certain medications and drugs can lead to increased forgetfulness.
The big fear of Alzheimer’s
With age, people find it increasingly difficult to remember things. They take longer to learn new things, lose the thread in conversations or search for words. To some extent, misfires and memory breakdowns in older people are completely normal and part of a natural aging process in the brain. A well-balanced diet, physical exercise and a targeted memory training often help the gray cells on the jumps.
However, the risk of Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia increases with age . In this, the circulation in the brain is permanently disturbed and it comes to damage. The tricky thing is that dementia usually develops creeping and often goes unnoticed at an early stage. Obviously, it only becomes when there are still orientation problems or the personality changes in the forgetfulness. A blanket recommendation on when to worry about forgetfulness and seek medical attention does not exist. If in doubt, caution is the better alternative. Because the sooner a dementia is recognized, the better it can be treated.
Alzheimer’s tests: These symptoms indicate dementia
Age forgetfulness can have many causes
If the doctor was able to exclude Alzheimer’s, the cause research continues. A frequent trigger for declining memory in older people are circulatory disorders that occur as a result of arteriosclerosis. They can have a negative effect on the memory performance because the brain is no longer sufficiently supplied with nutrients and oxygen. But also vitamin and mineral deficiencies, high blood pressure, a poorly adjusted diabetes or dehydration often leads in seniors to memory problems. In rare cases, brain tumors and inflammation of the cerebral vessels are behind forgetfulness and increasing mental degeneration.