230922 Memory Forgetfulness, and Aging: What’s Normal and What’s Not?

230922 Memory Forgetfulness, and Aging: What’s Normal and What’s Not?

Many older adults worry about their memory and other thinking abilities. For example, they might be concerned about taking longer than before to learn new things, or they may sometimes forget to pay a bill. These changes are usually signs of mild forgetfulness — often a normal part of aging — not serious memory problems.

What’s normal forgetfulness and what’s not?

What’s the difference between normal, age-related forgetfulness and a serious memory problem? It’s normal to forget things once in a while as we age, but serious memory problems make it hard to do everyday things like driving, using the phone, and finding your way home.

Talk with your doctor to determine whether memory and other cognitive problems, such as the ability to clearly think and learn, are normal and what may be causing them.

Signs that it might be time to talk to a doctor include:

  • Asking the same questions over and over again
  • Getting lost in places a person knows well
  • Having trouble following recipes or directions
  • Becoming more confused about time, people, and places
  • Not taking care of oneself —eating poorly, not bathing, or behaving unsafely

Tips for dealing with forgetfulness

People with some forgetfulness can use a variety of techniques that may help them stay healthy and deal with changes in their memory and mental skills. Here are some tips:

  • Learn a new skill.
  • Follow a daily routine.
  • Plan tasks, make to-do lists, and use memory tools such as calendars and notes.
  • Put your wallet or purse, keys, phone, and glasses in the same place each day.
  • Stay involved in activities that can help both the mind and body.
  • Volunteer in your community, at a school, or at your place of worship.*
  • Spend time with friends and family.*
  • Get enough sleep, generally seven to eight hours each night.
  • Exercise and eat well.
  • Prevent or control high blood pressure.
  • Don’t drink a lot of alcohol.
  • Get help if you feel depressed for weeks at a time.

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