Everyone knows that one of the most dreaded symptoms of an aging brain is memory loss. But what causes memory loss after 40?
Why do I keep forgetting things?
As we get older we start forgetting things. As my doctor put it: “It’s normal” to have memory slips. But what worried me was that I was forgetting more and more about the most familiar everyday things in the world. Why? I am an active person and do try to eat fresh vegetables and fruit, mind my Omega 3 and all that. So why was I feeling like Doris in Finding Nemo?
Looking back I started having memory issues around 50. But my memory loss started to have a real impact on my daily life some years after that. The fact that doctors think this is “normal” is because they know that our forgetting things is bound to increase as we get older. They also know that our diet, lifestyle and genetics influence the span and frequency of memory lapses.
But why do I keep forgetting things? Why do I seem to be more and more forgetful as time goes by, regardless of my effort to try and capture every single detail of important information in my brain?
Memory lapses have as number of causes, some are more treatable than others. Some are cause by serious accidents or external factors. Others are deeply connected with how our brain is “wired”.
Here are some causes of memory loss that can be treated or somewhat reversed
Treatable causes of memory loss
- vitamin B-12 deficiency; sleep deprivation; use of alcohol or drugs
- some medications (despite the fact that a doctor prescribed them)
- mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and dissociative disorder
- emotional trauma
- thyroid dysfunction
More serious causes of memory loss can be
- lack of oxygen to the brain
- head injury or concussion
- electroconvulsive therapy
- transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- brain surgery or heart bypass surgery
- brain infection or brain tumor
- cancer treatments - chemotherapy, radiation of the brain, bone marrow transplant
- neurodegenerative illnesses - Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or Parkinson’s disease
I forget things - is it dementia or Alzheimer’s?
In my research I also realized that many people also fear that age-related, mild memory loss issues are a sign of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. But the fact that our brain feels tired and has us forgetting things, names or misplacing objects does not necessarily mean that we are suffering from Alzheimer’s or will be affected by dementia.
Mild memory loss versus progressive or extreme memory loss
Memory slips are part of your natural aging process. Then again, progressive or extreme memory loss due to impairing conditions such as the ones above cannot compare to mere mild memory loss. What you do have to do is to treat your body well and to consult with your doctor. With more than one, if need be.
Memory loss can affect your short memory or be about events in the past. Your memory lapses can also be temporary, emotional, physiological or more permanent.
What my Fitbrain quest taught me
As I went on a journey to find out what I could do to cope with my own memory loss I was confronted with the fact is that there is no miracle pill for memory loss. But there are superfoods and supplements that do support your brain functions and will improve and sustain your memory. And that is both written in History and in Science!