Modern Migraine MD

What Kinds of Memory Problems are Normal?

misc image
What Kinds of Memory Problems are Normal?
Find yourself misplacing keys or forgetting names and wondering if it's just a part of aging or something more? Keep reading to understand the difference between typical memory problems and signs of conditions like dementia.

How often do we joke about having a "senior moment" when we can't recall where we placed our glasses? Or feel that pang of worry when a familiar name seems just out of reach? If you've had moments like this, you're definitely not alone.

Many older adults struggle with memory, it can be hard to know what’s normal and what’s not. In fact, over 50 million people around the globe have dementia, and experts expect that number to double in the next few decades. 

At Modern Migraine MD, with offices in Manhattan, NYC, Toms River, New Jersey, Aventura, Florida, and meeting with patients virtually across 13 states, our board-certified neurologist Dr. Risa Ravitz, offers specialized care for patients struggling with memory loss—including different forms of dementia. 

If lapses in memory have you worrying, don’t wait to set up a consultation with Dr. Ravitz. The sooner you attain an accurate diagnosis, the sooner you can take steps to minimize memory loss. 

While you wait for your appointment, take a moment to review this informative article covering memory loss, what’s normal, and what’s not.  

Normal memory loss associated with aging

As time passes, our bodies, including our brains, undergo natural changes. Memory is no exception. 

Just as you might not run as fast as you used to, your brain might take a tad bit longer to pull out specific information. Some of the typical age-related memory lapses include:

  • Misplacing everyday items like keys or glasses
  • Taking a moment or two longer to recall names or specific events
  • Being slower in learning new information or taking additional time to remember past occurrences
  • Sometimes fumbling for the right word in a conversation
  • Being slightly challenged when trying to multitask
  • Experiencing slower reaction times

While these issues can be frustrating, they’re generally not signs of a more serious issue. In fact, everyone goes through them to varying degrees. 

But what about those memory problems that aren’t just a result of celebrating a few more birthdays? When does the occasional forgetfulness point to a larger issue? That’s what our next section covers.

More than mere forgetfulness

If your forgetfulness starts to interrupt your daily life, it’s time to seek help. Sometimes these interruptions are nuanced. For example, while it’s normal to forget where you placed your car keys from time to time, forgetting what those keys are used for isn’t normal. 

Issues like this could be a sign of dementia. Dementia is a term that encompasses a wide range of cognitive impairments, not just memory loss. It involves challenges in language, problem-solving, and other thinking-related skills. Signs include:

  • Forgetting the names of close relatives or friends
  • Forgetting conversations, or repeating the same questions or stories
  • Increasing reliance on written reminders   
  • Frequently forgetting appointments or scheduled events
  • Forgetting recent events you attended
  • Trouble staying focused
  • Increased difficulty with language (e.g., struggling to come up with many words in conversation; difficulty understanding words when reading or speaking to others)
  • Difficulty following directions

Struggling to complete complex tasks or tasks with multiple steps, like paying your bills or following a recipe, is another sign that you might have more than mere forgetfulness. 

Many people think of Alzheimer’s disease when they hear ‘dementia,’ but other issues, including underlying issues like mental health disease or brain trauma, can also cause the permanent memory loss of dementia. By understanding the difference, you can better prepare and seek help when needed. 

If dementia is an umbrella term for symptoms affecting memory, communication abilities, and daily tasks, Alzheimer's disease falls under this umbrella and is the most prevalent form of dementia, affecting millions worldwide.

Alzheimer's is characterized by the degeneration of neurons, particularly those brain cells associated with language, memory, and cognition. The changes leading to Alzheimer's symptoms, interestingly, might begin years, if not decades, before the first sign.

Seeking the right help for memory troubles

If you or a loved one notices consistent and increasing memory lapses, or if these challenges interfere with daily life, it might be time to consult with your provider. Addressing memory issues is not just about reducing symptoms, but enhancing the quality of life.

Yet because memory is so complex, it’s not easy to know if you’re facing normal age-related memory loss or something more serious. That’s why our approach at Modern Migraine MD is comprehensive. 

After a detailed neurological assessment to pinpoint the cause of your memory challenges, Dr. Ravitz devised a tailored treatment plan. Some treatments may involve medications to slow the progress of diseases like Alzheimer's, while others might focus on addressing underlying conditions that could be affecting memory.

Worried about your memory? Don’t wait to set up a comprehensive visit with Dr. Ravitz at Modern Migraine MD. Our practice offers in-person or virtual appointments for your convenience.