Pictures of old memories
You can't remember the route to a restaurant you've been to many times before or the birthday present a friend gave you a month ago.
Then comes the worry.
Is your forgetfulness a sign of something serious? Such brain freezes happen to most of us, to different degrees, as we age. Even experienced public speakers have their "oops" moments, when a word or term they use on a daily basis simply refuses to come to mind.
But while such common memory lapses are frustrating, they don't necessarily mean you're losing your marbles. If your lapses aren't disrupting your life, there's no need to be actively worried, experts say.
"The key issue is whether cognitive changes are significantly interfering with daily activities," says Kirk R. Daffner, M.D., chief of the division of cognitive and behavioral neurology at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. If that's happening, you should consult your doctor. Your lapses may well have very treatable causes. Severe stress, depression, a vitamin B-12 deficiency, insufficent sleep, some prescription drugs and infections can all play a role.
Even if those factors don't apply to you, your memory isn't completely at the mercy of time. Studies have shown that people who exercise, stay mentally active, socialize regularly and eat a healthy diet can minimize memory loss.
Staying Sharp is a program that provides evidence-based information and actions you can take to maintain and improve your brain health as you age. Discover Staying Sharp and what’s included with AARP membership.
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