Memory Loss among the Elderly

Cassandra Howery

PSYC501 Research and Statistical Methods

American Public University

January 21, 2018

Memory Loss among the Elderly

A recent study from the University of Minnesota reported that the memory deficiency among the elderly is not as high as earlier thought. While it is true that the capability to remember the specific facts reduces with age, other types of memory are not affected in the same way. Koustaal (2015) reported that while the elderly have less ability to remember specific details than other groups, the retention of events and experiences is almost similar. This changes the highly widespread belief of the decrease in our ability to remember as we grow old. The changes in memory among people as they grow old are caused more by other health problems than age.

Most neuropsychologist agrees that cognitive loss starts at the age of 20 years. People fail to notice the loss because it is not significant enough to impede daily activities. However, between 45 and 49 years, people start to feel these effects while at 75 years, other people can see the impact (Clapp & Gazzaley, 2012). While it is normal to have changes in our ability to remember, it is necessary to identify those changes that are abnormal so that severe diseases cases are not ignored. It is a common problem, especially among low-income communities to confuse most memory challenges such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for aging and inevitable (Gard, Hölzel & Lazar, 2014). It is noteworthy that the brain is capable of producing new cells to stall information even at a very old age which makes memory loss with aging not inevitable.

The deterioration of memory with age is not uniform and does not affect all memory types at the same time in the lifespan of an individual. In fact, studies have shown that some types of memory such as semantic improves exponentially as one grows old (Clapp & Gazzaley, 2012). This means that unless an individual is having other health problems, their ability to remember general facts should remain perfect. Also, a procedural memory that helps recall how to do things remains the same throughout an individual’s life. Episodic memory that helps understand questions of what, where and when, and long-term memory are affected most by aging (Gard et al., 2014). Consequently, certain brain functions such as learning new things, information processing and ability to perform more than one toss deteriorate inevitably with age.

Several physiological and physical problems can result in glitches in memory. For example, depression, infections, substance abuse, depression, dehydration, medications, thyroid imbalance and poor nutrition have been reported to cause significant changes in an individual’s ability to remember. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the chief culprits for loss of memory with age (Clapp & Gazzaley, 2012). It is, therefore, necessary to attend to any challenges an individual or their loved ones face with memory rather than ignoring them and attributing them to age. In the hospital, a doctor should discuss all the possible causes of the problem with a patient and get a complete medical workup. To rule out psychological stresses such as anxiety and depression, a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation should be done.

To keep up with age and ensure a healthy brain, an individual should take precautions to minimize age-related changes. One way of doing this is socializing and getting involved in community activities (Aizpurua Koutstaal 2015). Also, physical activities such as brisk walking help in boosting the brain functionality. One also ought to train their brain on learning and memorizing by challenging it every day with new tasks. It is also necessary to avoid ageist stereotypes as they may cause memory loss psychologically (Villeda et al., 2014). While age is a factor in memory loss, its effects will be felt most by the physical and physiological fitness of an individual.

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