Age Associated Memory Impairment

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Introduction

Age-Associated Memory Impairment is memory degradation as the age progresses. This is a natural process associated directly with growing age. Almost 40% of people aged 65 experience gradual memory loss which has no direct link to any of the medical conditions. It shouldn't be confused with the clinical conditions namely Alzheimer’s and dementia. There’s a significant difference between each of them. 

To examine Age-Associated Memory Impairment within individuals, researchers use the diagnosis tools namely Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Logical Memory subtest. This memory dysfunction sounds troublesome to a lot many aged people increasing their concerns to the most. It can be as simple as forgetting a phone number to the difficult one as forgetting your own son’s name. 

Age Associated Memory Impairment

Memory lapses are growing concerns these days. You won’t care for them when young but later you realize these are hampering the social interactions made between you and the people. These physiological changes can be linked adequately to the functional changes in the brain that you’ve been taken for granted. The mental process slows down and your encoding, recalling, and retrieval abilities are compromised at a greater front. 

Different forms of Age-Associated Memory Loss

With growing age, memory loss takes place. This is what we’ll be covering throughout this writeup. Certain memory loss forms need to be highlighted. The mild memory loss is associated with the own self-obsession about having a decreased memory. Though it's not contraindicated in the objective memory scores of the memory tests. 

The other form is a mild cognitive impairment which is rather a severe memory loss problem. It comes with serious memory issues with functional issues. It's somewhat correlated to the condition of primary Alzheimer's disease. When this condition worsens it falls into the category of dementia which is the most severe form of age-associated memory impairment.

Reasons for Age Related Memory Loss

There are three main reasons for age-related memory impairment. All these are listed below: 

  • The hippocampus is a major memory functioning area. It is involved in memory retrieval. With age, it deteriorates.
  • Some certain hormones and proteins are genuinely involved in forming brain cells and maintaining their health. With age, the glands stop their secretion hence its effect does not stay that influential. 
  • With growing age, there’s decreased blood flow to the brain. This will input impairment and will cause changes in cognitive stillness. 

Assessing Memory Impairment 

It's necessary to identify under which category the patient falls. The categories as discussed above are classified through memory scales and points. The very first step is to get a standardized score for a cognitive test through certain examinations. The mini-mental state examination is all ready to test for one’s retention, language, rate memory, calculation, and visual powers. It takes a total of 10 minutes to test all. 

For detailed and definitive examination regarding memory assessment, certain neurophysiological tests are carried out. For a definitive diagnosis of dementia and early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, a technique named positron emission tomography is used. Certain screening tests like the Thyroid hormone test, vitamin B12 deficiency, RBCs count, and liver tests are done.  

Dementia vs Normal Memory Aging

Normal Aging can be explained as an inability to remember elementary details that took place seconds ago or years while dementia is an inability to recall memories. Adding on, normal memory aging is associated with not being able to remember someone’s name while in dementia you won't be able to recall someone’s name. Patients suffering from dementia take long pauses when they talk as they have a missing chain of words in between while in the case of memory loss a person is unable to fit in the appropriate words in the right place. 

How to improve normal-age related memory problems? 

Following certain tips can surely help you out to get rid of this problem in less time. Here it follows: 

  • Plan things and follow things in a routine. This will keep you in synchrony with the mandatory daily tasks you need to perform.
  • Maintain a planner for key things and organize them properly. You may use a calendar too. Marking on it will prevent you from forgetting yours’ and your loved ones' special dates. 
  • Try repeating and recalling things often. This is how the information will take a sound place in the storage houses. 
  • Try linking things and make connections. This will make it easier for you to remember things much easier. 
  • It's perceived that using visual and auditory descriptions boost up your learning process. 
  • Try to remember things via creating stories of your own or listening to others. 

Treatment Options for Memory Impairment

 According to different memory loss forms, there are different treatment options. For mild memory issues, there are none such pharmaceutical makeups though symptomatic treatment can be done. Rest severe memory loss forms are treated with Vitamin E supplements which work as an antioxidant and cholinesterase inhibitor that forms acetylcholine at a better rate for appropriate synaptic transmission. 

Aging Theory 

It says that certain changes take place at the cellular level. This causes the major brain cells to lose its integrity that causes the drop in overall concentration of neurotransmitters named acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is known to connect synapses. And better synaptic integration allows for better memory building. 

It's also known that there’s a progressive decrease in the size of the brain as the age progresses. Hence, the hippocampus starts losing its cells which is the main part of the limbic system. This will account for overall memory impairment. There’s about 5% cell loss every decade. 

Risk factors for Age Associated Memory Impairment

Lifestyle is the main predisposing factor for any aggravating condition. Memory decline can closely be associated with a certain environmental process that speeds up the death of brain cells and decreases the amount of acetylcholine in the synapses. These factors can be broadly classified into inherited factors and non-inherited factors. 

The inherited factors include genetic association linked up with mutation under the action of poisons, toxins, and radiations. The lifestyle choices on the other hand are even the key strollers to this date. Smoking, drinking, and a bad diet are a few of the common risk factors. 

Few of the drugs which are used as anti- sedative and anti-hypnotic drugs are benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants, statins, anticonvulsant drugs, antihistamines are known to induce memory impairment with time. Alzheimer's disease which is a memory disorder is likely to be acquired if one is found with apolipoprotein e-4 allele. This is somewhat directed to dose-related effects directing the late onset of Alzheimer's disease. 

When to see a doctor for memory impairment

Frequent memory lapses denote that it’s the right time to see a doctor. To stay protected from larger memory disorders like dementia and Alzheimer's, one must see a doctor early. Progress of the disease is halted when your physician will take certain necessary actions. The physician will assess your problems and your risk factors to let you have an easy integration and to improve the condition. The disease can be reversible and irreversible depending on the damage which has occurred to the brain cells. 

Reversible Memory Loss

There are many reasons for your memory loss. It is not the very first indication that you are heading towards being a patient having dementia. There are certain reasons for the cause like the prevailing ones are stress and depression. Many researchers also quote vitamin deficiency to be one of the causes of memory loss. The memory loss needs to be tackled on time and this definitive diagnosis is necessary. Do see a doctor or recommend others to see them if you find someone suffering. 

Depression is a continuous process and when the person feels low for a certain period, he will be considered under this case. Particularly, you are known to be in depression if you miss feeling happy for small good things in your life. You rather have turned into some emotionless sad person during this time. It's a major problem in several adults found in the world. 

Vitamin B12 deficiency has the potential to damage your brain permanently. An adequate amount of folic acid and B!2 in the diet is mandatory. People who smoke and are habitual of drinking are more prone to such deficiencies. To encounter such conditions vitamin supplements and injections are provided. On the other hand, abnormality with thyroid gland can also affect brain functioning. T3 and T4 are important thyroid hormones and their sufficiency and deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. This significantly causes memory problems and causes forgetfulness in this case. Iodine and hormone supplements are the treatment plans available. 

Excessive alcohol is also known to have lethal effects on the brain. It impedes cell growth as it crosses the blood-brain barrier. Too much alcohol can progressively lead to dementia. Withdrawal of alcohol is going to re-correct the situational changes which took place. Furthermore, dehydration is also known to have profound effects on memory creation. It's mandatory to drink 6-8 glasses of water daily or if severely dehydrated take in diuretics and laxatives. 

Quick steps to combat memory losses

Some healthy practices can draw you to a better stance where you’ll start taking care of yourself and your brain. Memories are what most memorable to a person's life. Don't you like recalling long takes your grandpa used to tell you every time you go to meet him? Don't you like to recall the best wedding events you have gone through? To combat this stressful situation of memory loss. 

  • Be social. Try sitting and spending time with the family. Start a happy day with your loved ones on the breakfast table and end it with the nicest family time in the TV lounge. Face-to-face interaction is known for a long time to reduce stress and keeps you more engaged in tasks other than those stressful talks. 
  • Smoking for years is known to damage a person progressively from inside and outside. It has some intense effects on the brain. It can cause stroke and cerebral damage. To prevent it all by quitting smoking. 
  • Cortisol is the hormone that our body produces under stressful conditions. The stressful conditions are going to cause a certain memory loss. This can cause memory lapses which can be reduced by stress management techniques. Keep yourself stress-free, try going out and spending most of your time in a stress-free environment can do a lot. 
  • Try sleeping for 8 hours daily. This is great for memory consolidation. Decision making and retrieval are better done during the sleep process. To manage this well effective sleep process at the right time is necessary. 
  • Keep a close look at your diet and manage it well. Improve your daily routine by getting yourself involved in healthy activities like playing games, reading books, solving IQ tests and there’s a lot more to do. 
  • Waling 6-9 miles every week can help combat this situation easily. It prevents the brain from shrinkage and keeps the memory intact. This makes up a lot of grey matter into the brain. 
  • Avoid taking too many medications at a time. A greater amount of medication can severely interfere with brain makeup. Such interactions will cause brain atrophy. This can cause the existing grey matter to be lost. Do see a doctor before taking any decision all by yourself. 

Ways to keep brain intact and in longer functioning mode

Certain strategies are a key goal in maintaining the brain’s health. These are as follow;

  • Physical Activity - it's long noted that exercise and physical activity is rather very beneficial for a healthy health score. To achieve this the increased blood flow plays a crucial role. This lets a larger amount of blood flow to the cerebral cortex that leads the new cells to grow. This also allows new neurons to be formed in the hippocampus. Physically active people have a lesser chance of developing a memory disorder. 
  • Stress Reduction - Chronic stress can affect your memory adversely. Prolonged stress can increase stress hormones in circulation leading to adverse effects on the limbic system of the brain. This can also lead to anxiety in the long term. Reducing this can beneficially affect the brain for its proper functioning. 
  • Diet - Excessive fats in the adipose tissues and the blood vessels can lead to hypertension and diabetes. This will impede the blood flow to the areas of the brain. Opting for a better diet is a necessary choice for better brain formation and maintenance. Vitamins C and E are known to protect brain health. These antioxidants protect the brain's health. Certain fruits like tomatoes, blueberries, broccoli have high-antioxidant properties.
  • Mental activity - Intellectually active people are less likely to develop any memory disorders. Greater reading and better brain stimulation indicate better memory functioning. This develops greater neuronal density and improves one’s cognitive function. 
  • Lifestyle choices - According to research, smoking is among the risk factors for memory loss. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk. Alcohol intake also adversely affects memory stores. 

Summary

Age-related memory disorders are different medical conditions that impair the memory storage and retrieval system as the person grows old. The majority of the people now feel a deficit in their memory in the older age.  

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common age-related memory disorders. Some other cognitive impairments in the old age can also cause a deficit in memory leading towards dementia. 

These memory disorders can be due to several reasons such as decreased functionality of the hippocampus, decreased availability of certain hormones, decreased blood flow to the brain, etc. 

Some differences do exist between dementia and normal memory loss due to aging. These differences have been mentioned earlier. 

Different brain exercises and tricks are advised by the experts to keep a track of activities and limit the memory loss associated with aging. They can also prevent certain age-related memory disorders. 

Although no proper medical treatment exists for such memory disorders, certain vitamin supplements can help improve the conditions of the patients. 

The aging theory states that certain changes take place in the brain with the age of an individual. These changes can cause memory impairments. 

Lifestyle, inheritance, and drug abuse are certain risk factors for memory impairments in old age. 

A person should start seeing the doctor if he experiences frequent memory lapses. 

Certain changes in lifestyle and eating habits can improve the chances of increasing brain functionality even in older age. 

References

  1. Miller SL, Celone K, DePeau K, et al. Age-related memory impairment associated with loss of parietal deactivation but preserved hippocampal activation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2008 Feb;105(6):2181-2186. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0706818105
  2. Song J, Birn RM, Boly M, et al. Age-related reorganizational changes in modularity and functional connectivity of human brain networks. Brain Connectivity. 2014 Nov;4(9):662-676. DOI: 10.1089/brain.2014.0286.