As I get older, why does my memory for names seem to deteriorate?
—Tony Karger, U.K.
Paul Reber, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, answers:
Forgetting someone’s name is a common misstep. The structure of memory explains why you can often recognize the person’s face and even come up with other details, such as where and how you met, but the name remains elusive.
We are often only able to piece together elements from a past event. When remembering what you had for dinner one week ago, for example, you can probably picture yourself sitting at a table with a plate of food in front of you. You can likely recall whether you were alone or with others or whether it was a casual night in or a fancy affair. Your brain, however, offers only crude brushstrokes. It does not create as complete a picture as a video recording would.
Vivid, accurate memory is actually a hard trick to pull off for the human brain. Our brain is not wired like a camera; it is composed of billions of neurons that perform many jobs besides remembering. During memory retrieval your brain cheats, filling in the gaps to concoct the most likely scenario. Let us say you remember sitting around the dining room table with friends. You conclude that you were eating roast chicken and mashed potatoes—your go-to menu when hosting guests. Your brain doesn’t store a full picture of the evening, but recalling one aspect of the night can cue other elements, ultimately generating a full picture. This process of association is useful for filling in the blanks; however, it can also be unreliable, which explains why eyewitness accounts are surprisingly error-prone.
With names, the problem is that they are usually arbitrary. The fact that you met Tom on the sideline of a soccer field means he probably has a child the same age as yours, likely lives nearby and might have a job common to people in your area. All those elements create a reasonable picture of Tom, except none of these clues offers hints about his name. It could just as easily be Dick or Harry.
As we age and our memory starts to function less well, names are most likely among the first things to escape us. You can use tricks to help remember, such as rhyming the name with an object. What is easiest, however, is to keep in mind that everyone has difficulty with names, so you can be less embarrassed when one eludes you and less critical of others when yours escapes them.
- Why Do I Always Forget People’s Names? Science Says Your Brain Is Actually Playing A Trick On You
- 4 Reasons Why We Forget People’s Names
- A neuroscientist reveals why you’re so bad at remembering names
- Age-Related Memory Loss
- Worried about your forgetfulness? Learn what’s normal when it comes to memory and aging, and how to recognize the signs of more serious problems.
- Normal forgetfulness vs. dementia
- Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
- When to see a doctor for memory loss
- Reversible causes of memory loss
- Compensating for memory loss
- Brain exercises to combat memory loss
- Quick Tricks
- Why you can’t remember anything – and how to fix it
- Short-term vs. long-term memory
- Tests for short-term memory loss
- Ginkgo biloba
- Improving short-term memory
- Additional resources
- Why You Forget Names Immediately—And How to Remember Them
- Why you forget
- How to remember
- Thank you!
- Why Can’t I Remember Names Anymore?!
- Forgetting is Not Necessarily a Sign of Dementia
- “I went to introduce my friend to my neighbor and forgot both of their names…is forgetting names a sign of dementia?”
Why Do I Always Forget People’s Names? Science Says Your Brain Is Actually Playing A Trick On You
You’re at a holiday party, you see someone you totally recognize, someone you actually like, and they’re coming your way to talk — which would be great, except for the fact that you 100 percent cannot remember their name. It’s embarrassing for sure, and sends you down a mental spiral about why you can never remember people’s names, even though you seem to be able to retain faces just fine. But the truth is, my friends, according to a new study, your brain is actually a lot better at remembering names than it is at remembering faces. Many of us just think we can’t remember names because of how freaking embarrassing that moment can be when you have to ask for someone’s name again, or worse, get it wrong on the first (and maybe even second) try.
The new study comes from researchers at the University of York, who basically want you to go easier on yourself when you forget someone’s name at your next holiday party. According to the university’s press release on the study, in a circumstance where you know someone’s face but can’t seem to place their name, you’re relying on a brain function called recognition to remember the person’s face, and another function called recall to remember their name. And apparently, the research argues, your brain is generally better at recognition than it is recall.
In other words, it’s really not your fault if you can’t remember whether that one co-worker’s name is Stephanie or Stacy.
As per the study’s press release, the researchers explained that you’re only aware that you’ve even forgotten a person’s name at all after you’ve recognized their face. Moreover, from the researchers’ perspective, it’s not often that you can recall a person’s name, but not their face — which is actually pretty true when you think about it. Because, when I forget a face at least, it’s kind of like I just don’t know I’m forgetting it. Like, if you’re sitting next to some dude on the subway that you met once but don’t remember, well, you just don’t remember. And as a result, you don’t beat yourself up for it the same way you do when you forget someone’s name. You don’t even really register the fact that you forgot their face, you know?
Anyway, here’s how the study went: According to the press release, the researchers recruited participants (most of whom were in their 20s) to take part in a series of experiments centered around something called a “fair test,” meaning they played a recognition game that “pitted” their ability to remember names against their ability to remember faces. The participants had a short period of time to memorize unknown faces and unknown names, and were later tested on their ability to recall both.
During another experiment, the press release explains, the researchers added some complications to account for how faces can change slightly depending on the circumstances or context (think: hair up or down, being in a dark restaurant, etc.). They showed the participants different pictures of the same faces from the first experiment, and also showed the names in different typefaces.
According to the study’s results, which have been published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, people recognized about 73 percent of faces in the first experiment, when they were shown and tested on the same photograph of a person, though they only recognized about 64 percent of faces in the second experiment, when the learning and test photos were slightly different from one another.
However — and here’s the kicker — participants recognized a whopping 85 percent of names when they were presented in the same font and format in the first experiment, and 83 percent when the font style changed in the second experiment.
Study co-author Dr. Rob Jenkins, of the department of psychology at the University of York, said in a statement for the study’s press release,
Our study suggests that, while many people may be bad at remembering names, they are likely to be even worse at remembering faces. This will surprise many people as it contradicts our intuitive understanding.
Knowing someone’s face, but not remembering their name is an everyday phenomenon. Our knee-jerk reaction to it is to say that names must be harder to memorise than faces, but researchers have never been able to come up with a convincing explanation as to why that might be. This study suggests a resolution to that problem by showing that it is actually a red herring in the first place.
So, if it makes you feel any better about forgetting someone’s name at a party, there could very well be someone at the punch bowl trying to make eye contact with you, whom you don’t remember at all. Just sayin’.
Why? Many women remember Wendy from Peter Pan with fondness; and it seems there are relatively few other Wendys out there to hate. The name peaked in 1970 as the 28th most popular name for baby girls, and has largely declined ever since, hitting a low in 2015 at No. 941, after which it vanished from the Social Security baby names index.
But she’s not foolproof. Once, a gal across the table at a dinner where I was describing all this heard me and piped up: “My husband’s first wife is named Wendy, and we hate her.”
My nonbinary go-to: Stevie, as in Nicks and Wonder.
Overall, as experiments go, Steve and Wendy have been an outstanding success. Sure, some people think it’s odd. But the overwhelming majority respond with visible relief and pleasure.
Here’s the thing, Not only does no one like remembering names, but no one really likes what names represent. That is, those awkward first moments of conversation with a stranger when you each of you lists your relevant data: name, profession, home location.
Skipping your name means skipping all of that — and the novel bond you forge by sharing in it means you can candidly go to topics that actually interest you both. It’s the linguistic equivalent of taking off your uncomfortable work shoes and pulling on your favorite sneakers.
Dozens of people now call me Steve, and hundreds of people have asked if they can steal the Steve strategy. It’s free for anyone to take. To ennoble what could seem a shallow, idiosyncratic gesture, I call this campaign the post-nominal revolution, hoping for a future when you will never have to use anyone’s name, ever.
You can call me David if you must, but I’d rather you didn’t. It’s a little personal.
4 Reasons Why We Forget People’s Names
Source: Dean Drobot/
“I never forget a face,” Groucho Marx famously said, leading to the punchline, “But in your case, I’ll make an exception.”
Groucho’s memory for faces may be legendary, but it’s really not that extraordinary. In fact, humans are quite good at recognizing faces they’ve seen before, and there’s an evolutionary reason for this. Not only humans but many other social animals recognize their group mates by their faces. We even have dedicated machinery in the brain for processing facial features. This makes facial recognition quick and relatively accurate. What’s really challenging is remembering the names that go with those faces.
In a recent article, psychologists Lise Abrams and Danielle Davis explored the complex reasons why we forget names. First, they consider four ways in which the names for people are different from other kinds of words:
1. Names are arbitrary.
Ordinary words consistently refer to the same kind of thing. If I tell you I have an apple in my backpack, you have a pretty good idea what that object looks like. But if I tell you I have a friend named Brad, you know absolutely nothing about him.
2. Names don’t have synonyms.
We’ve all had the experience of a word seeming to be dangling on the tip of our tongue — we know there’s a specific word we want to use, but we just can’t retrieve it from memory. Fortunately, almost all words have synonyms, and although they may not be just the one we wanted, they’ll do in a pinch. Our conversation partner is none the wiser about our memory lapse. But people’s names don’t have synonyms — there are no substitutes.
3. Names contain multiple words.
In many cultures, it’s customary for a person to have both a given name and a family name, and sometimes additional names as well. If you’re trying to remember the name of the actor that starred in two different movies featuring airplanes crashing into water, just saying “Tom” isn’t going to cut it — you need his full name. (Tom Hanks; Castaway and Sully.)
4. Names are low-frequency words.
Among ordinary words, a tip-of-the-tongue experience is more common with low-frequency words like “disseminate” than with high-frequency words like “spread.” Even when the components of names are common, such as “Tom” and “Hanks” or “Brad” and “Pitt,” their combinations (“Tom Hanks” and “Brad Pitt”) still occur much less frequently. Sometimes, even the letter combinations in names are highly unusual, making them difficult to remember. For example, who played the male lead in 12 Years a Slave? (I know you can see his face, but what’s his name?)
In short, forgetting a person’s name is just like forgetting a word: You’re certain that you know the word (or the name), or you feel you should know it but you just can’t get it out. However, the strategies we use for circumventing memory lapses often fail in the case of names.
A tip-of-the-tongue experience can be considered a form of production error — that is, we fail to produce the desired word or name. But memory lapses can occur on the receiving end as well. In this case, we have a comprehension error.
We’ve all had an experience like the following: Your colleague is telling you about Sandra in accounting who recently got married, and all the while, you’re thinking she’s talking about Erica in payroll. You heard her say “Sandra,” but your mind pulled up an image of Erica instead. Eventually, you realize your mistake, and then you have to go back and rewrite the memories you’d just created. (Or maybe you don’t realize the mistake, and then later in the day when you congratulate Erica, she thinks you’re being sarcastic.)
Memory for names is tested in the lab by giving participants information about a famous person and then asking for their name or what they’re known for.
- Q: Which British actor portrayed Harry Potter in the film series?
- A: Daniel Radcliffe.
Or we might ask:
- Q: How many animals did Moses take on the ark?
- A: Two of each kind.
If you think that last answer was correct, read the question again. (Moses didn’t go on the ark; that was Noah.) This kind of comprehension error is known as the Moses illusion.
The reasons why the Moses illusion occurs are not completely clear, but we can give at least a partial explanation. When we read, we don’t process every word deeply, because it would slow us down too much. Instead, we do a “good-enough pass,” and as long as the words seem appropriate, we move on, only stopping when a word is unfamiliar or unexpected.
We get the Moses illusion in this case because Moses and Noah share many attributes: They’re both persons from the Old Testament, and each was a reluctant leader. (Moses led the Israelites; Noah led the animals.) But not just any Bible figure will elicit the illusion: Few people fall for the question, “How many animals did Adam take on the arc?”
The Moses illusion isn’t just limited to names, but can occur with ordinary words as well. You might misread a recipe and add a tablespoon of salt instead of a teaspoon. Or you might enter the northbound freeway when you meant to head south. (You swear the sign said “South.”)
We expect our memories to be reliable sources of information, readily available whenever we need to recall something. And for the most part, that’s exactly how our memory for words and names works. In ordinary conversation, we retrieve words and their meanings at a rate of two or three per second. What’s really amazing is how rarely the process breaks down. Memory lapses are normal, and everyone experiences them. So we shouldn’t feel bad when the occasional tip-of-the-tongue experience or Moses illusion strikes us.
A neuroscientist reveals why you’re so bad at remembering names
We’ve all been there, you’re having a nice conversation with someone you just met and suddenly you realize you’ve forgotten their name.
It’s embarrassing, but the good news is there’s actually an evolutionary reason behind it. Dr. Dean Buonomano, professor of neurobiology at UCLA, explains why people’s names aren’t easy to remember.
Following is a transcript of the video:
The human brain is the most complex device in the known universe. The brain also has many bugs, or limitations, or glitches.
We have trouble remembering certain types of information. So remembering long lists of numbers and remembering people’s names are good examples.
So, human beings did not evolve to remember people’s names. Indeed the act or the custom of giving each other names is probably relatively recent in evolutionary history.
The result of this is because of the architecture of the brain and how the brain stores memories. And because we’re not very good at memorizing pieces of information that are not linked to other pieces of information.
We have a phenomenon called the Baker/Baker paradox.
If you’re sitting on the plane with somebody and they told you they are a Baker and they go on to have a interesting conversation then you might later on remember that day and say, “Oh I had this interesting conversation with this gentleman that was a baker.”
On another trip maybe you’re going to sit beside somebody and says “My name is John Baker and I’m an accountant.” You might remember that conversation but you’re more likely to forget his name. So it’s the same piece of information.
The word “baker” in the context of a profession or the word “Baker” in context of somebody’s last name.
And studies show that indeed people are more likely to remember it in the context of the profession. One reason for that is because the brain has this associative architecture, we learn by making associations, by linking things that are observed or happen together.
And when you hear the word “baker” in the context of a profession, you naturally have context to embed that word in funny hats, bread, getting up early, whatever your experience is. Now when you hear a name, that’s not the case.
Names tend to be more isolated, so it’s because of the associative architecture of the brain that we have trouble memorizing names or long lists of random bits and pieces of information.
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Age-Related Memory Loss
Worried about your forgetfulness? Learn what’s normal when it comes to memory and aging, and how to recognize the signs of more serious problems.
We’ve all misplaced keys, blanked on someone’s name, or forgotten a phone number. When you’re young, you don’t tend to pay much attention to these lapses, but as you grow older, you may worry about what they mean. Perhaps you start to talk about a movie you saw recently when you realize you can’t remember the title. You’re giving directions to your house when you suddenly blank on a familiar street name. Or you find yourself standing in the middle of the kitchen wondering what you went in there for. Memory lapses can be frustrating, but most of the time they aren’t cause for concern. Age-related memory changes are not the same thing as dementia.
As you grow older, you experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions you’ve always taken for granted. It takes longer to learn and recall information. You’re not as quick as you used to be. In fact, you may mistake this slowing of your mental processes for true memory loss. But in most cases, if you give yourself time, the information will come to mind. So, while it’s true that certain brain changes are inevitable when it comes to aging, major memory problems are not one of them. That’s why it’s important to know the difference between normal age-related forgetfulness and the symptoms that may indicate a developing cognitive problem.
The brain is capable of producing new brain cells at any age, so significant memory loss is not an inevitable result of aging. But just as it is with muscle strength, you have to use it or lose it. Your lifestyle, habits, and daily activities have a huge impact on the health of your brain. Whatever your age, there are many ways you can improve your cognitive skills, prevent memory loss, and protect your grey matter.
Furthermore, many mental abilities are largely unaffected by normal aging, such as:
- Your ability to do the things you’ve always done and continue to do often
- The wisdom and knowledge you’ve acquired from life experience
- Your innate common sense and your ability to form reasonable arguments and judgments
- The hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in the formation and retrieval of memories, often deteriorates with age.
- Hormones and proteins that protect and repair brain cells and stimulate neural growth also decline with age.
- Older people often experience decreased blood flow to the brain, which can impair memory and lead to changes in cognitive skills.
Normal forgetfulness vs. dementia
For most people, occasional lapses in memory are a normal part of the aging process, not a warning sign of serious mental deterioration or the onset of dementia. The following types of memory lapses are normal among older adults and generally are not considered warning signs of dementia:
- Occasionally forgetting where you left things you use regularly, such as glasses or keys.
- Forgetting names of acquaintances or blocking one memory with a similar one, such as calling a grandson by your son’s name.
- Occasionally forgetting an appointment or walking into a room and forgetting why you entered.
- Becoming easily distracted or having trouble remembering what you’ve just read, or the details of a conversation.
- Not quite being able to retrieve information you have “on the tip of your tongue.”
Does your memory loss affect your ability to function?
The primary difference between age-related memory loss and dementia is that the former isn’t disabling. The memory lapses have little impact on your daily performance and ability to do what you want to do. Dementia, on the other hand, is marked by a persistent, disabling decline in two or more intellectual abilities such as memory, language, judgment, and abstract thinking.
When memory loss becomes so pervasive and severe that it disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships, you may be experiencing the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, or another disorder that causes dementia, or a condition that mimics dementia.
|Normal age-related memory changes||Symptoms that may indicate dementia|
|Able to function independently and pursue normal activities, despite occasional memory lapses||Difficulty performing simple tasks (paying bills, dressing appropriately, washing up); forgetting how to do things you’ve done many times|
|Able to recall and describe incidents of forgetfulness||Unable to recall or describe specific instances where memory loss caused problems|
|May pause to remember directions, but doesn’t get lost in familiar places||Gets lost or disoriented even in familiar places; unable to follow directions|
|Occasional difficulty finding the right word, but no trouble holding a conversation||Words are frequently forgotten, misused, or garbled; Repeats phrases and stories in same conversation|
|Judgment and decision-making ability the same as always||Trouble making choices; May show poor judgment or behave in socially inappropriate ways|
Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage between normal age-related cognitive changes and the more serious symptoms that indicate dementia. MCI can involve problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes, but the line between MCI and normal memory problems is not always a clear one. The difference is often one of degrees. For example, it’s normal as you age to have some problems remembering the names of people. However, it’s not normal to forget the names of your close family and friends and then still be unable to recall them after a period of time.
If you have mild cognitive impairment, you and your family or close friends will likely be aware of the decline in your memory or mental function. But, unlike people with full-blown dementia, you are still able to function in your daily life without relying on others.
While many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. Some people with MCI plateau at a relatively mild stage of decline while others even return to normal. The course is difficult to predict, but in general, the greater the degree of memory impairment, the greater your risk of developing dementia some time in the future.
Symptoms of MCI include:
- Frequently losing or misplacing things
- Frequently forgetting conversations, appointments, or events
- Difficulty remembering the names of new acquaintances
- Difficulty following the flow of a conversation
When to see a doctor for memory loss
It’s time to consult a doctor when memory lapses become frequent enough or sufficiently noticeable to concern you or a family member. If you get to that point, make an appointment as soon as possible to talk with your primary physician and have a thorough physical examination. Even if you’re not displaying all the necessary symptoms to indicate dementia, now may be a good time to take steps to prevent a small problem becoming a larger one.
Your doctor can assess your personal risk factors, evaluate your symptoms, eliminate reversible causes of memory loss, and help you obtain appropriate care. Early diagnosis can treat reversible causes of memory loss, lessen decline in vascular dementia, or improve the quality of life in Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.
What to expect at your doctor’s visit
The doctor will ask you a lot of question about your memory, including:
- how long you or others have noticed a problem with your memory
- what kinds of things have been difficult to remember
- whether the difficulty came on gradually or suddenly
- whether you’re having trouble doing ordinary things
The doctor also will want to know what medications you’re taking, how you’ve been eating and sleeping, whether you’ve been depressed or stressed lately, and other questions about what’s been happening in your life. Chances are the doctor will also ask you or your partner to keep track of your symptoms and check back in a few months. If your memory problem needs more evaluation, your doctor may send you to a neuropsychologist.
Reversible causes of memory loss
It’s important to remember that memory loss doesn’t automatically mean that you have dementia. There are many other reasons why you may be experiencing cognitive problems, including stress, depression, and even vitamin deficiencies. That’s why it’s so important to go to a doctor to get an official diagnosis if you’re experiencing problems. Sometimes, even what looks like significant memory loss can be caused by treatable conditions and reversible external factors, such as:
Depression. Depression can mimic the signs of memory loss, making it hard for you to concentrate, stay organized, remember things, and get stuff done. Depression is a common problem in older adults—especially if you’re less social and active than you used to be or you’ve recently experienced a number of important losses or major life changes (retirement, a serious medical diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, moving out of your home).
Vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 protects neurons and is vital to healthy brain functioning. In fact, a lack of B12 can cause permanent damage to the brain. Older people have a slower nutritional absorption rate, which can make it difficult for you to get the B12 your mind and body need. If you smoke or drink, you may be at particular risk. If you address a vitamin B12 deficiency early, you can reverse the associated memory problems. Treatment is available in the form of a monthly injection.
Thyroid problems. The thyroid gland controls metabolism: if your metabolism is too fast, you may feel confused, and if it’s too slow, you can feel sluggish and depressed. Thyroid problems can cause memory problems such as forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. Medication can reverse the symptoms.
Alcohol abuse. Excessive alcohol intake is toxic to brain cells, and alcohol abuse leads to memory loss. Over time, alcohol abuse may also increase the risk of dementia. Because of the damaging effects of excessive drinking, experts advise limiting your daily intake to just 1-2 drinks.
Dehydration. Older adults are particularly susceptible to dehydration. Severe dehydration can cause confusion, drowsiness, memory loss, and other symptoms that look like dementia. It’s important to stay hydrated (aim for 6-8 drinks per day). Be particularly vigilant if you take diuretics or laxatives or suffer from diabetes, high blood sugar, or diarrhea.
Side effects of medication. Many prescribed and over-the-counter drugs or combinations of drugs can cause cognitive problems and memory loss as a side effect. This is especially common in older adults because they break down and absorb medication more slowly. Common medications that affect memory and brain function include sleeping pills, antihistamines, blood pressure and arthritis medication, muscle relaxants, anticholinergic drugs for urinary incontinence and gastrointestinal discomfort, antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and painkillers.
Are you taking three or more drugs?
As well as certain individual medications, taking too many medications can also create cognitive problems. A recent study found that the more medications you take, the higher your risk for brain atrophy. Researchers found that the loss of gray matter was most acute in people who took three or more different medications. If you are concerned about the medications you’re taking, talk to your doctor. But do NOT stop taking your medications without your doctor’s consent.
Compensating for memory loss
The same practices that contribute to healthy aging and physical vitality also contribute to a healthy memory. So, by taking steps early to prevent cognitive decline, you’ll also be improving all other aspects of your life as well.
Stay social. People who aren’t socially engaged with family and friends are at higher risk for memory problems than people who have strong social ties. Quality face-to-face social interaction can greatly reduce stress and is powerful medicine for the brain, so schedule time with friends, join a book club, or visit the local senior center. And be sure to put your phone away and focus fully on the people you’re with if you want the full brain benefit.
Stop smoking. Smoking heightens the risk of vascular disorders that can cause stroke and constrict arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain. When you quit smoking, the brain quickly benefits from improved circulation.
Manage stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, damages the brain over time and can lead to memory problems. But even before that happens, stress or anxiety can cause memory difficulties in the moment. When you’re stressed out or anxious, you’re more likely to suffer memory lapses and have trouble learning or concentrating. But simple stress management techniques can minimize these harmful effects.
Get enough sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep as you age is necessary for memory consolidation, the process of forming and storing new memories so you can retrieve them later. Sleep deprivation reduces the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus and causes problems with memory, concentration, and decision-making. It can even lead to depression—another memory killer.
Watch what you eat. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink green tea as these foods contain antioxidants in abundance, which can keep your brain cells from “rusting.” Foods rich in omega-3 fats (such as salmon, tuna, trout, walnuts, and flaxseed) are particularly good for your brain and memory. Eating too many calories, though, can increase your risk of developing memory loss or cognitive impairment.
Exercise regularly. Starting a regular exercise routine, including cardio and strength training, may reduce your risk of developing dementia by up to 50 percent. What’s more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems. Exercise protects against Alzheimer’s by stimulating the brain’s ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones.
Walking: An easy way to fight memory loss
New research indicates that walking six to nine miles every week can prevent brain shrinkage and memory loss. According to the American Academy of Neurology, older adults who walked between six and nine miles per week had more gray matter in their brains nine years after the start of the study than people who didn’t walk as much.
Brain exercises to combat memory loss
Just as physical exercise can make and keep your body stronger, mental exercise can make your brain work better and lower your risk of mental decline. Try to find brain exercises that you find enjoyable. The more pleasurable an activity is to you, the more powerful its effect will be on your brain. You can make some activities more enjoyable by appealing to your senses—by playing music during the exercise, for example, or lighting a scented candle, or rewarding yourself after you’ve finished.
Here are some ideas for brain exercise, from light workouts to heavy lifting:
- Play games you are not already familiar with that involve strategy, like chess or bridge, and word games like Scrabble. Try crossword and other word puzzles, or number puzzles such as Sudoku.
- Read newspapers, magazines, and books that challenge you.
- Get in the habit of learning new things: games, recipes, driving routes, a musical instrument, a foreign language. Take a course in an unfamiliar subject that interests you. The more interested and engaged your brain, the more likely you’ll be to continue learning and the greater the benefits you’ll experience.
- Improve how well you do existing activities. If you already speak a foreign language, commit to improving your fluency. Or if you’re a keen golfer, aim to lower your handicap.
- Take on a project that involves design and planning, such as a new garden, a quilt, or a koi pond.
There are things you can do to improve your recall day to day. You may have to organize (or reorganize) your life a little:
- Get organized. Stash the items you misplace often in the same spot, and they’ll be less likely to go missing in the future. Install a key hook and cell phone charging station so they have dedicated places.
- Write it down. When it comes to keeping track of your schedule, phone numbers, and birthdays, put pen to paper. Even if you don’t look at your notes, the act of writing them down can help you recall things.
- Consult your calendar. Get a date book or wall calendar and write meetings, appointments, family outings — and everything else — in it. Look at your next day’s schedule before you go to bed to help keep events fresh in your mind.
- Play word games. Create an online password you’ll never forget by using an acronym. Come up with an easy-to-recall sentence or phrase. For example, you could use the year your favorite sports team won big: SSSBC14 could stand for Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl Champions in 2014. It means something to you, so you’ll remember it, but isn’t easy for a hacker to figure out. If the password was assigned, make up a sentence that fits it.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. From a name of someone you just met to an address you need to get to, saying something again can help it stick with you.
- Work at it. Do something to challenge your brain — learn a new language, discuss books with your friends, or curl up with a crossword puzzle.
- Get social. People who volunteer, or just keep up with friends and family, are more likely to stay alert.
Why you can’t remember anything – and how to fix it
We’ve all had days where keys mysteriously go missing and the names of people we know slip from our mind.
But a worrying new study has claimed that our brain power starts declining when we’re in our 40s – not 60s as previously thought.
The good news is, most scientists agree we don’t have to accept these age-related memory problems as inevitable.
“Many people, young or old, worry that mild forgetfulness must be a sign of dementia, but research shows that over 80% of people will never get Alzheimer’s,” says leading memory expert Dr Majid Fotuhi.
“Most memory loss is down to other factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise, certain medications, stress or poor diet,” he explains.
And since many of these factors are caused by a person’s lifestyle, there is plenty you can do to combat hidden brain drains.
Why? New research suggests that your post-Christmas diet could help shape up your grey matter as well as your waistline. The Italian study found that eating fewer overall calories could help us remember more by boosting a type of protein in the brain vital to memory function.
Lead researcher Dr Giovambattista Pani says that cutting 25-30% of daily calories is enough to make a difference.
● Memory fix: Skip dessert. Cutting calories by 25% can be as easy as ditching that slice of cake after dinner. But you shouldn’t drop below around 1,300 calories per day without talking to your GP first.
2 Cutting out carbs
Why? High protein, low-carb diets are as popular as ever, but ditching the likes of bread, rice and potatoes can leave you fuzzy-headed and forgetful, according to a study by US scientists.
The British Nutrition Foundation’s nutrition scientist Bridget Benelam explains: “Your brain basically runs on carbs, so if you avoid them you’re depriving this vital organ of its main fuel.”
Memory fix: Include carbs – ideally fibre-rich varieties such as wholemeal bread, jacket potatoes or brown rice – in meals and snacks for a steady supply of glucose through the day.
3 Too little chicken
Why? Chicken contains the nutrient, choline, which a recent study by Boston University revealed helps keep the brain on top form.
Researchers found that people who got plenty of choline (also found in eggs, fish and beans) in their diets performed better on memory tests and were less likely to show brain changes associated with dementia.
● Memory fix: For a healthy, choline-rich meal, tuck into grilled chicken Caesar salad with slices of hard-boiled egg.
4 Binge drinking
Why? We’ve all heard that booze can kill brain cells, but the latest research shows it may also damage our ability to lay down long-term memories.
A study this year by Spain’s Santiago de Compostela University found binge drinking hampers the brain’s hippocampus, which plays a key role in memory.
It found that students who admitted to regularly indulging in four or more drinks on a night out were not as efficient at learning new information in tests as those who abstained.
● Memory fix: Spread out your units. Stick to a maximum of 14 units per week, and no more than two units per day. One unit is equivalent to a 125ml glass of wine.
5 Stressful situations
Why? High stress events such as rows, deadlines and traffic jams have been found to release large amounts of the stress hormones cortisol and corticotropin – both enemies of good recall, as they prevent communication between our memory-forming brain cells.
Researchers at the University of California found that having to deal with high-pressure situations damaged people’s ability to remember events afterwards.
● Memory fix: Stay cool in a crisis – easier said than done perhaps. But having a few calming exercises to hand can help.
Try walking away from the situation and taking five minutes to lie down or sit in a quiet place with your eyes closed, then breathe slowly. The aim isn’t to fall asleep –you’re simply reducing your heart rate and giving your body – and brain – a breather.
6 Untreated high blood pressure
Why? Over time, high BP can narrow the arteries, reducing blood flow to the brain and triggering episodes of forgetfulness. One study by the University of Alabama found people with high blood pressure were more likely to have problems with memory than those with normal blood pressure – the higher the BP, the worse it is.
Memory fix: If you’re over 40 or have a family history of high blood pressure, get yours checked. Losing weight and regular exercise can help control BP, but if it’s very high, medication such as beta-blockers or ACE inhibitors can be prescribed.
7 Underactive thyroid
Why? This common condition affects one in 10 women and memory problems are one of the main symptoms – alongside others such as exhaustion, weight gain and low mood.
This is because an underactive thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of the hormone thyroxine, which can slow down your body’s whole metabolism – brain function included.
● Memory fix: See your GP. A simple blood test can diagnose the condition, then tablets containing thyroxine are prescribed and symptoms should start to improve quickly.
8 Lack of sleep
Why? Experts say any sort of sleep deprivation – even losing as little as an hour a night – can hamper memory. This is because when you sleep a part of the brain called the hippocampus files memories from the day. Missing out on sleep disrupts this vital part of the memory process and can make you more forgetful.
Memory fix: Take a 20-minute nap. While interrupting sleep can disrupt the memorymaking process, a short afternoon power nap can help redress the balance by giving the brain a boost.
9 Slouching on the sofa
Why? “Lack of exercise can speed up the rate of age-related memory problems,” says Elia Siaperas, celebrity personal trainer at The Laboratory Spa & Health Club (www.labspa.co.uk)
“The brain shrinks naturally as we get older, resulting in fewer brain cells and poorer memory, but as little as three 40-minute workouts a week could reverse this shrinkage in the over-50s – and even encourage the brain to grow.”
● Memory fix: Try a 10-minute brisk walk. One study found a short stroll before a word recall test improved people’s performance. All thanks, researchers said, to the extra rush of blood to the brain.
10 Being pregnant
Why? Many mums-to-be swear they experience ‘baby brain’ and become more forgetful while expecting, and a recent Australian study suggests they’re right.
The researchers at the University of New South Wales, compared the memory performances of pregnant and non-pregnant women, and found that the former had the worst memories, particularly in tasks that involved remembering new information such as phone numbers. Experts think this may be due to the elevated hormone levels affecting brain function.
● Memory fix: Have the baby! A study by the University of Bradford found that although pregnant women’s memories did deteriorate and stayed affected for up to three months after the birth, they gradually returned to normal after one year.
11 Prescription drugs
Why? Medication to treat certain conditions, including high cholesterol, arthritis and asthma, can negatively affect memory. A recent review found that the popular cholesterol-lowering pills statins could help increase forgetfulness. Other research found that long-term use of high dose steroids can lead to recall problems.
● Memory fix: There are alternatives for most medications so if you think your memory difficulties coincided with starting a particular medication, ask your doctor to try an alternative.
12 Listening to the wrong tunes
Why? The right music has been found to stimulate important parts of the brain.
For example, some studies have demonstrated that classical music like Mozart enhances the memory of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and boosts scores in children’s memory tests.
Other types of music can be less helpful – one study found that trance music with a monotonous beat was a brain turn-off and lowered levels of concentration.
Memory fix: You don’t have to become a classical music buff over night to gain brain-boosting benefits.
Listening to guitar-based rock such as Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC and the Red Hot Chili Peppers was found to improve concentration and boost memory just as much as Mozart in a Scottish study.
When a person experiences short-term memory loss, he or she can remember incidents from 20 years ago but is fuzzy on the details of things that happened 20 minutes prior.
There are a number of causes of short-term memory loss, some which are a result of medical conditions and others that are related to injuries or other outside influences. Treatment options depend on what caused the loss, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
A brain aneurysm may cause short-term memory loss, as well as long-term memory loss. Aneurysms are wek, bulging spots on the wall of brain arteries, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (BAF). Brain aneurysms don’t always rupture, but when they do, they can cause bleeding into the compartment surrounding the brain. The pool of blood clots, increases tpressure on the brain and can irritate, damage or destroy brain cells. Problem with body functions and mental skills may result. In 30 perecent of brain aneurysm cases, memory problems disappear over time, but recovery may take weeks, according to BAF.
A brain tumor may affect memory. Cancer treatment, head trauma or concussion, brain infections and strokes may also bring about short-term memory loss, according to the NIH. A lack of oxygen to the brain can affect short-term memory. Alcohol and drug abuse, concussions and other trauma to the head can impact short-term memory. Medical conditions such as seizures, epilepsy, heart bypass surgery and depression can also impact short-term memory. One of the first signs of dementia is short-term memory loss.
People who have been victims of or witnessed a traumatic event such as a violent crime or accident can also have their short-term memories affected.
Short-term vs. long-term memory
Short-term memory is the information that a person is currently thinking about or is aware of. It is also called primary or active memory. Recent events and sensory data such as sounds are stored in short-term memory. Short-term memory often encompasses events over a period anywhere from 30 seconds to several days.
Because short-term memories need to be recalled for a lesser amount of time than long-term memories, the ability of the brain to store short-term items is more limited. According to “Memory Loss & the Brain,” a newsletter from the Memory Disorders Project at Rutgers University, short-term memory can store anywhere from five to nine items. New information can bump out other items from short-term memory. Long-term memory has much greater capacity and contains things such as facts, personal memories and the name of your third-grade teacher.
Different parts of the brain handle the different stages of memory. Short-term memory primarily takes place in the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortet. Then the information makes a stopover in the hippocampus. A 2014 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a small number of neurons in the hippocampus may hold the memories of recent events. Exposure to a particular face becomes linked to these neurons, which fire when the memory is recalled. The memories are then transferred to the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in language and perception for permanent storage.
Amnesia, also called amnestic syndrome, is a loss of memories, such as facts, information and experiences, according to the Mayo Clinic. Unlike a temporary episode of memory loss, amnesia can be permanent. However, though losing one’s memory of identity — not knowing who you are — is a common plot device on soap operas and mysteries, amnesia does not usually cause a loss of self-identity. Instead, people with amnesia usually know who they are, but they have trouble with short-term memory; they can’t learn new information or form new memories.
Amnesia can occur as a result of head trauma, drug toxicity, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, infection or even emotional shock. This last type is called dissociative amnesia and is classified as psychogenic, or as having a psychiatric origin, and can result in the temporary loss of personal memories and identity.
These memories can often be recovered through psychotherapy, but in cases where amnesia lasts for months or years, the subject may begin an entirely new life. This is called a fugue state, and if those affected didn’t have it hard enough, on recovering their memories of pre-trauma events they usually forget the fugue state!
Tests for short-term memory loss
When testing for any type of memory loss, a doctor will take a medical history and perhaps ask a few questions to test a patient’s memory.
Other exams may include cognitive testing to check the patient’s mental status and ability to think. The doctor may also order blood tests to check for various conditions including vitamin B-12 deficiency and thyroid disease.
Depending on the results, other tests may include an MRI or CT scan of the head and an EEG to measure electrical activity in the brain. A cerebral angiography may also be ordered to examine blood flow to the brain.
If the cause of the short-term memory is related to a psychological trauma, a therapist or psychologist may be consulted.
Extracts from the ginkgo tree have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including asthma, bronchitis, and kidney and bladder disorders, according to the NIH. Today, ginkgo extract is used as a dietary supplement for many conditions, including dementia, eye problems, leg pain and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
However, several studies on the possible health effects have found no conclusive evidence that ginkgo is helpful for any health condition, according to the NIH. A study of more than 3,000 older adults found that ginkgo does not help prevent or slow dementia. There is also no evidence that ginkgo helps with memory enhancement in healthy people.
Improving short-term memory
One of the most common suggestions for a better short-term memory is to use mnemonics. Mnemonics is the technique of attaching a word, phrase or image to an object. One example of a mnemonic is the trick to remember how many days are in a month. “Thirty days hath September, April, June and November …” You can also use the trick to remember things such as a name, such as “Rob wore a red shirt.”
Another trick is to have someone put a number of objects out on a table. Give yourself 30 seconds to memorize them. Then take the objects away and try to write down as many as you can in 30 seconds.
Doing activities that engage your brain, such as Sudoku and crossword puzzles, and reading in general can also help improve your memory.
- Rutgers: Memory Loss & The Brain
- NIH: Things Forgotten — Simple Lapse or Serious Problem?
- NIH: Sleep On It — How Snoozing Strengthens Memories
Why You Forget Names Immediately—And How to Remember Them
Of all the social gaffes, none is perhaps more common than meeting a new person, exchanging names and promptly forgetting theirs — forcing you to either swallow your pride and ask again, or languish in uncertainty forever.
Why do we keep making this mistake? There are a few potential explanations, says Charan Ranganath, the director of the Memory and Plasticity Program at the University of California, Davis.
Why you forget
The simplest explanation: you’re just not that interested, Ranganath says. “People are better at remembering things that they’re motivated to learn. Sometimes you are motivated to learn people’s names, and other times it’s more of a passing thing, and you don’t at the time think it’s important.”
But this isn’t always the case. Often you really do want to remember, and find yourself forgetting anyway, Ranganath says. This may be because you underestimate the work necessary to remember something as seemingly simple as a name.
A common name may be forgettable because it doesn’t strike your mind as interesting, or because you know multiple people with that name already. On the other hand, a rare name may be easy to recognize but harder to recall. And any name, common or not, has to fight for space in your already-crowded brain. Given all these factors, it takes more effort than you think to lock down a name.
“You’re not only remembering the name, but you’re remembering the name in relation to a face. Even if you get the information in, which we call encoding, you might not be able to find the information because there’s so much competition between other names and other faces in your memory,” Ranganath says. “People are often overconfident, and they underestimate how hard it will be later on.”
People who get distracted by making a good impression or holding a conversation may fall into this camp, Ranganath says. In focusing your energy elsewhere, you may neglect to file away the information you just learned, then struggle to mentally return to that part of the interaction.
How to remember
Mnemonic devices can be helpful, Ranganath says. He recommends finding something distinctive about the person or their appearance, and relating it back to their name. Remembering a common name like John might be difficult, for example, but if you can mentally categorize someone as John the Jogger, it may stick out more.
Finding ways to test yourself, even as the conversation is ongoing, may also be helpful, he adds. Take note of the person’s name when they say it, then quiz yourself on it a few minutes, or even seconds, later. “Try to recall the information immediately or soon after you learn it,” Ranganath says. “The act of actually testing yourself on the name will help you retain it better in the long term.”
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Repeating the person’s name after they say it may also trigger a more powerful effect than listening alone. “If you generate something, it’s actually easier to remember than if you just passively take it in,” he says. “You’re actually learning to immediately see that face and then produce this name.”
And if you do forget, envision the moment you met somebody — the setting, other things you talked about and so on — to try to cognitively retrace your steps, Ranganath says.
But if all else fails, know that forgetting names is a very common problem, even among memory researchers. “When you think about all these factors,” Ranganath says, “it’s really a miracle that we can remember anybody’s name.”
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Write to Jamie Ducharme at [email protected]
Why Can’t I Remember Names Anymore?!
Misplacing your car keys, going blank on the name of a colleague’s wife, and spacing on why you walked into a room can set you into a panic-is your memory already fading? Could it be early-onset Alzheimer’s?
Chill. Cognitive loss is inevitable as you age, but according to a 10-year study of 10,000 adults published in the British Medical Journal, for most people it won’t start until around age 45. Yes, a few reports have said the slow decline starts as early as 27, but other research shows your mind is still growing at that time. “Development of the frontal lobe, which controls complex reasoning, continues for some people into their 20s or even late 30s,” says Gary Small, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and author of iBrain. “Plus there’s a protective coating around long ‘wires’ connecting brain cells that peaks around age 39, so signals traveling along these wires get faster.”
The reason for your mind fumbles is likely very simple. “Most short-term memory loss is stress-related,” says Carolyn Brockington, M.D., director of the Stroke Program at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. “We’re all running around doing a million things, and although many people think they can multitask well, the brain sometimes has trouble moving from one thing to another and back again.” The problem isn’t your memory or even the multitasking; it’s that you need to concentrate more and make a conscious memory of things that you’ll want to recall later, like that you left your keys on a hook by the door.
If your forgetfulness starts to disrupt your daily functions, such as accomplishing your work or taking care of your family, then you might have a problem that you shouldn’t ignore. “There are a variety of medical conditions that can affect your memory, such as thyroid disease, vitamin deficiencies, and anemia,” Brockington says. If you think your situation is more than stress, keep a list of the instances when and where your memory failed you, and when you have five or more examples, talk to your doctor. She can help address any underlying conditions and possibly reverse the memory damage, and determine if you need further neuro-psychological testing.
RELATED: The 11 Best Foods for Your Brain
Otherwise, focus on your health. “What you do to your body when you’re young affects your brain,” Small says. “Anxiety, depression, drug abuse, unhealthy diet, inactivity, poor sleep, and other external factors can all influence your memory in the long run.” For even more protection against premature senior moments, adopt the following simple mental tricks to keep your internal hard drive operating at max optimization.
1. Get your heart pumping. You can build brainpower the same way you build flat abs. Eating right and exercising for at least 30 minutes five days a week are key to keeping your head strong and healthy, says Peter Pressman, M.D., a neurology fellow at the Memory and Aging Center of the University of California, San Francisco. “If you exercise and get your heart rate above 60 percent your maximum, you may improve your cognitive reserve-your backup of healthy brain cells-which may help fend off disease in the long run,” he says. Working out releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that’s crucial for maintaining healthy neurons and creating new ones that ultimately helps ward off diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s.
2. Memorize “The Monster.” Exposing your mind to anything new means you’re learning, which is key for a healthy brain, says Vonda Wright, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and author of Guide to Thrive. So try to learn the lyrics to this new hit from Eminem and Rihanna, or if you are a hip-hop fan, choose a song outside of your favorite genre. The more difficult it is to master, the tastier and more powerful the brain candy.
3. Hit the “delete” button. Your brain is being overloaded with more information than ever-the news, work, bills, passwords-and you’re not pressing the mental “delete” button often enough, making it challenging at times to create room for incoming data. Take a load off by making several lists. “Separating what you have to do into small manageable lists really helps relieve some stress from having to keep track of it all, which clogs up your brain,” Wright says.
She suggests breaking things down into what you can finish in five minutes, 20 minutes, and 1 hour-that way when you have 20 minutes to spare, you can check that list and cross an item off. Once you have everything in black and white, fuhgettaboutit. Really, try to “delete” those things or file them away in a mental “folder” and just remember that you need to accomplish the items on your lists-you’ll get to them when the time is right, and if something’s not on the list, it’s not important enough to worry about (so don’t!).
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4. Snooze longer. You’ve heard that sleeping 12 hours on Saturday won’t make up for the fact that you got five hours most nights of the week-and if you’re still ignoring this, perhaps this will convince you to aim for more consistent bedtimes: “Sleep is not just important for renewal of physiological health but also for psychological health,” Brockington says. “How it affects the brain is unclear, but we know if you don’t maintain a regular sleep schedule, there is a cumulative effect and it will start to affect to your memory.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, creating a sleep debt of just an hour a day can impact your performance, ability to process information, and mood. Poor dozing has also been linked to increased inflammation, which can lead to memory loss. Rather than cut into your precious slumber to wake up an hour early to work on an important presentation, hit snooze for those 60 minutes and rise feeling more rested, energized, and better able to think clearer and make good decisions, Brockington says.
5. Unplug from your devices. Your memory is like a Groupon-use it or lose it. So while it’s convenient to never have to memorize phone numbers or the route to your dentist anymore, those shortcuts are short-circuiting your noggin’s power, Brockington says. Fight back by weaning yourself off technology a bit. Try keeping your phone in your purse when out with friends, commit to memory at least five key phone numbers-such as your best friend’s, boyfriend’s, boss’s, brother’s, and therapist’s-and start relying on your GPS or Google Maps less often. Sure, you may wind up in the wrong place, but that means you may also stumble upon some amazing dive bar that’s not even on Yelp.
6. Listen to Tolstoy. “Brain scans show that if you hear, write, or say a word, different areas of the brain are stimulated,” Small says. And like a two-year-old, your brain craves stimulation-and lots of it. To keep the variety coming, consider listening to books with a free app like Audible while you drive to work, cook dinner, clean, or grocery shop. Whether you pick Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or challenge yourself to listen to a classic literary work such as Anna Karenina or War and Peace, you’ll make a ho-hum task more fun and prevent brain boredom too.
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7. Wise up. The number of times your mom has called asking how to take a photo with her phone is proof that age takes a toll on your mental skills. Yet the people who gave you life still have a few things up on you. Time and experience have given them wisdom and empathy that will take you a lifetime to achieve, reports a 2013 study in Psychology and Aging. So when Mom speaks up, take notes.
8. Swap FaceTime for face time. One-on-one interaction with a human being-and not via a screen-is like investing in a personal trainer for your brain. “Talking with people and having a back-and-forth is a mental workout,” Small says. “You have to read cues, like intonations and pauses, and think of an appropriate response while simultaneously monitoring your companion’s response, all of which fire up neural cells.”
- By Cristina Goyanes
Forgetting is Not Necessarily a Sign of Dementia
“I went to introduce my friend to my neighbor and forgot both of their names…is forgetting names a sign of dementia?”
This is a common concern voiced by people as they age. However, it is important to realize that forgetting for a short period of time, even a well known friend’s name, is not necessarily a sign of dementia. It can be a result of stress, lack of sleep, infection or even a medication interaction.
In this case, forgetting names or appointments occasionally is normal. However, one of the more common early signs of dementia is when a person begins to forget more often and is unable to recall the information later such as multiple appointments that they have made and missed.
If you have trouble at times finding the right word that you want to say that is normal, but people with dementia find that they not only often forget simple words, but they substitute unusual words making their speech or writing hard to understand. For example they may ask for “that thing for my mouth” or tell you they are “brushing with the oven” when trying to refer to a toothbrush.
“Now why did I come in here?”
If you occasionally forget why you came into a room or what you came in for, that’s OK. It is when you find it hard to plan or complete everyday tasks or lose track of the steps in planning a meal or placing a telephone that you may want to consult with your physician.
“Where are my keys?”
We have all misplaced our keys or wallet at some point, but usually they are quickly found. A person with dementia may put things in unusual places such as an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl or they may put their keys in the usual place, but forget where that place is for an extended length of time.
When should I be concerned about signs of dementia?
All of us can make questionable decisions from time to time. However, a warning sign of dementia is when someone begins dressing inappropriately wearing several layers on a warm day or little clothing in the cold. In addition, someone with dementia may also show poor judgment, like giving away large sums of money or becoming involved in “too good to be true offers.”
Balancing a checkbook can be a challenge for many people, but a lifelong banker may find even the easiest of mathematical equations to be too difficult if dealing with dementia. When something that once came quite easily becomes too hard, it may be a sign of a more serious problem.
It is OK to sometimes feel weary of work or social obligations. However, it is important to note that a person with dementia may become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual or not wanting to do usual activities. These are also signs of depression, so it is a good idea to talk with a doctor.
Forgetting is something that everyone does from time to time; it is when it begins to affect your daily life or creates worries or concerns for ones safety that one must dig deeper. As previously mentioned it may be a medication interaction or stress induced. In the end, if you are still concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from some type of dementia, talking with your doctor or signing up for a memory clinic is recommended.