The Impact of Aging on Memory

Misplacing our keys or forgetting someone’s name is something we all experience from time to time, but for people over age 65 it can be alarming and cause concern that Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia has set in. But often these minor slipups don’t indicate cognitive issues and do not warrant concern.

Some types of memory decline with age, including episodic and working memories, particularly performance on tasks that require active manipulation of information (working memory) and the ability to learn multiple pieces at once (procedural memory). On the other hand, some aspects of memory remain stable throughout aging processes; immediate sensory memory remains strong, as does recall of previously learned information.

Memory decline with age may also be affected by lifestyle and stress levels. Studies show that older individuals who lead an active, social lifestyle and take medication for chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure or depression tend to have better short-term memory than their counterparts with lesser active lives who live sedentary lives, depression or stress levels.

Mild Cognitive Impairment, commonly referred to as MCI, affects some elderly people. MCI stands between normal age-related cognitive changes and the more serious memory problems caused by Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia; its line between MCI and normal memory lapse isn’t always clear; thus it’s essential that elderly people know when forgetfulness needs medical or psychological intervention.