Memory and aging

According to the most common definition, memory is the ability to store and recall previously acknowledged information. It is divided into short- and long term one. Simply put, short-term memory stores the most current events until they are either forgotten or transmitted to long-term memory.  If the memory is functioning well, that is the place where they should be stored permanently. There are many factors that affect how long knowledge will be remembered, such as emotional connection.

The fact that the memory is getting worse with age is not surprising. It is believed that the reason of this phenomenon is a loss of cerebral tissue and a decline in the number of neural connections. The most recent research shows that not every part of human memory ages at the same rate. Short-term memory is much more susceptible to time passing. In practice, this means that for an elderly person, it is easier to remember their childhood friend’s name than some events from the previous section of a book. This has a huge impact on the learning process, making it harder for seniors to learn new things while the previously known ones are kept unalterably in memory. Of course, it does not mean that long-term memory is not changing, but it is clearly less noticeable and troubling. Age also leaves a mark on so called “prospective memory”, which is a future relative type. This means that seniors are more likely to forget about scheduled doctor’s appointments.

We cannot stop time, but fortunately, we can slow down the natural aging process in a nice and easy way. At first, it pays of to practice one’s memory by doing crosswords, puzzles or playing chess. Reeding books, newspapers, or playing “memory” game is a great retention exercise. Moreover, caring for regular sports activity in fresh air and healthy, balanced and nutritious diet can bring us not only mental ability, but also general health. Nuts are strongly recommended, as they are brain-shaped for some reason.

Lastly, it should be said that although the deterioration of memory with age is a common thing, some symptoms might indicate serious disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Forgetting what has happened a few minutes ago, losing one’s bearings, struggling to find way back home or disremembering important names are the reasons for seeking professional medical help.