An age forgetfulness is also known as mild cognitive disorder. This is a memory disorder in the form of a decreased ability to concentrate on a task for longer or to remember things.
What is old age forgetfulness?
According to NONPROFITDICTIONARY.COM, age forgetfulness is a memory disorder in the form of a reduced ability to concentrate on a task for longer or to remember things.
Usually the vocabulary and the ability to speak (see language disorders ) are not affected by this memory disorder when people forget their old age .
However, those affected often withdraw from their social environment and especially avoid stressful and hectic situations. The forgetfulness of old age can be very clearly differentiated from dementia, since dementia is associated with much more severe limitations in brain performance.
In addition, the forgetfulness of old age does not progress as it does with dementia, but stagnates at a certain level.
To date, the exact causes of old age are not known. However, the normal aging process plays an important role, as numerous changes take place in the brain during aging that can impair mental abilities.
From the age of 40, for example, the brain becomes around 10 to 15 percent smaller and the connections between the nerve cells change. For this reason, those affected process information more slowly and also have difficulty concentrating or remembering things.
In addition, there is also the possibility that the forgetfulness of old age has various diseases as the cause. These include, for example, brain tumors , cerebral haemorrhages or infectious diseases that spread to the brain, such as neuroborreliosis. Mental illnesses such as neuroses or depression can also be a possible cause.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
The forgetfulness of old age is colloquially often equated with senility or with Alzheimer’s disease . This is wrong, because all three diseases mentioned are separate clinical pictures with different courses.
The pure forgetfulness of old age is medically not a disease, but only an age-appropriate development. In some people it begins at the age of 50, but it occurs more frequently from around the age of 70.
A very typical symptom is that mentally active older people report things and experiences and suddenly they can no longer think of terms, names, cities and the like. These are things that were remembered earlier. For example, the name of a well-known actor, the title of a book, the name of a city is missing. Those things will come to mind at a later point in time, so they are not irretrievably deleted.
Conversely, the forgetfulness of old age does not refer to things or terms that are clearly in mind. For example, if you mention the name of an actor in a conversation, his face will be remembered. If a book that has been read is shown or its title is given, the person concerned still knows that he or she has read it. The forgetfulness of old age afflicts people from all walks of life and is perceived as a threat by most of the elderly.
A mild cognitive disorder in the course of old age forgetfulness usually takes a harmless course. However, it can also be the preliminary stage of dementia. In 10 to 20 percent of all cases, old age forgetfulness develops into a pronounced dementia syndrome.
According to new studies, around 15 percent of those affected will develop Alzheimer’s disease within a year . For this reason, early detection is very important in order to be able to assess the risk of further deterioration.
The transition from normal aging to forgetfulness is fluid. For this reason, mild cognitive disorders are difficult to isolate and the exact number of cases of the disease is not known. However, it is estimated that around 5 to 15 percent of people over the age of 60 have such memory problems.
As a rule, the diagnosis is made more difficult by a creeping onset of old age forgetfulness. Often, attention and concentration disorders as well as forgetfulness are initially not noticed by those affected. For this reason, surveys of family members and friends are important, as they often notice the symptoms earlier than the person affected.
When making a diagnosis, it is particularly important to distinguish it from other diseases or dementia. Corresponding examinations such as the mini mental status test and the clock test are used for this purpose. Since tiredness , nervousness or emotional stress can falsify the results of these tests, it makes sense to repeat the tests regularly.
In addition, biochemical examinations of the cerebral water are available for diagnosis. Imaging methods such as computed tomography , electroencephalography or Doppler sonography can also be used to make a diagnosis and to rule out dementia.
Old age forgetfulness can take many forms. The possible complications are just as diverse. Depending on the cause and constitution of the patient, forgetfulness in old age initially reduces the ability to interact, which in the long term can lead to the formation of mental illnesses. Initially, however, old age forgetfulness is much milder than, for example, dementia.
Typical complications include difficulty concentrating and slight changes in personality . Those affected often become more quick-tempered and impatient, which can lead to various problems, especially in everyday life. An initial feeling of depression, because earlier activities can no longer be perceived as before, later develop into depression and anxiety disorders, but also serious physical complaints such as incontinence or difficulty swallowing.
In the long term, forgetfulness of old age reduces the ability to be self-sufficient and thus increases the risk of accidents (falls, broken bones) and illnesses (e.g. malnutrition, dehydration). Complications can also arise in the treatment of old-age forgetfulness if the prescribed medication leads to an intensification of forgetfulness or if therapeutic measures do not lead to a noticeable improvement in symptoms. Dementia rarely develops from the forgetfulness of old age, which is usually associated with severe complications.
When should you go to the doctor?
Old age forgetfulness is a normal phenomenon of aging. The increasing forgetfulness of aging people therefore usually does not require a doctor’s visit. However, this only applies as long as the age-related forgetfulness is within the normal framework. A doctor’s visit is only necessary if those affected often seem confused and disoriented.
The person concerned can counteract the normal forgetfulness of old age himself with targeted memory exercises and concentration training. There are various ginkgo-based preparations on the market that are said to be effective against forgetfulness of old age. However, a preparation prescribed by a doctor may also stimulate blood flow in the brain.
A visit to the doctor to be on the safe side can show that old age is already the first sign of the onset of dementia. In this respect, it is advisable to pay attention to whether the forgetfulness of old age gets worse or stays within the normal range. The progression of symptoms is typical of dementia. With normal age forgetfulness, however, the cognitive disorders remain within limits.
The consulted neurologist can determine by questioning the relatives how far the forgetfulness of old age has already progressed. If necessary, he can use imaging procedures and tests to rule out or verify whether the forgetfulness of old age is a preliminary stage of dementia. If it is not, the cognitive abilities can be improved at least temporarily through medication or specific exercises.
Treatment & Therapy
There is currently no therapy against forgetfulness of old age that can improve the symptoms. The drugs that are used for dementia do exist, but no concrete research results are yet available regarding a treatment against forgetfulness of old age.
As a rule, antidementia drugs and acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are used here. Ginkgo extract is often used when people are forgetting of old age, but even here it has not been scientifically proven that there is a positive effect on cognitive abilities.
Furthermore, cognitive training programs can be used as part of psychotherapy to improve memory performance for a short time. However, these only help if those affected do them regularly. Those affected can also become more mentally efficient through physical exercise in the fresh air, as the blood flow to the brain is improved.
Outlook & forecast
The forgetfulness of old age is a common symptom of old age and is usually not dangerous for those affected. However, this forgetfulness leads to a significant reduction in the quality of life and furthermore to severe restrictions in everyday life. In some cases, those affected are dependent on the help of other people or carers. You can also pose a danger to yourself through the forgetfulness of old age.
There are also disturbances in concentration and coordination . Often the patients cannot remember where they live. It is not uncommon for old age forgetfulness to lead to severe tiredness or nervousness. The affected persons themselves sometimes unintentionally represent a burden for their children and relatives. Changes in personality can also occur, so that the patients appear aggressive or irritated. The risk of accidents increases significantly and in many cases self-sufficiency is no longer possible for those affected.
A direct treatment of the forgetfulness of old age is not possible. With the help of various medications, the symptoms can be limited if necessary.
Due to the normal aging process, it is not possible to prevent old age forgetfulness. However, those affected should ensure that they exercise enough so that the brain cells are supplied with enough oxygen. In addition, a healthy diet also provides the necessary nutrients and vitamins that support good brain performance. The brain can also be trained with regular brain teasers.
Follow-up care should, among other things, prevent the recurrence of a disease. However, this is not possible after the diagnosis of old age forgetfulness. There is currently no therapy that can cure the typical symptoms. To date, too little is known about the consequences of available drugs. However, it is worth going to the doctor.
Because there is a risk that the forgetfulness of old age will develop into dementia. Then a slight difficulty in concentrating turns into a disorientation. Doctors therefore test the mental abilities of their patients as part of their aftercare. Sometimes imaging techniques such as CT scans and Doppler sonographies are also used.
Furthermore, aftercare aims to ensure that those affected learn how to live everyday life despite their forgetfulness. This is not always easy. Doctors can order psychotherapy for this. Cognitive training promises to alleviate symptoms. Exercise units must be integrated into everyday life, as this gives the brain sufficient oxygen.
The change in character, which often tends to be slightly irritable , should also be discussed. For the success of the aftercare in old age forgetfulness, it is crucial to involve relatives. Because they are usually the first to perceive the typical signs and represent a central point of contact for medical professionals.
You can do that yourself
Old age forgetfulness is well known and widespread, but it is difficult to treat with medication as it can cause far worse side effects. Usually physical or occupational therapy is used to counteract this, but there are also numerous exercises and tips to limit the symptoms yourself.
Probably the most important starting point for action lies before an illness, namely prevention . Sufferers should be aware that they can benefit from any kind of prevention.
A healthy lifestyle plays the most important role in prevention and treatment. Adequate exercise and a nutrient-rich diet can already help improve brain performance. Strengthening the body strengthens the mind at the same time. Foods suitable for the brain include whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Adequate hydration is also very important.
You can also train the brain through brain teasers. However, it doesn’t help much to do the same type of crossword puzzles every night. The head always needs new challenges. Games in a group or at least with a partner, where spontaneity is required, are particularly suitable. However, those affected must also be aware that it is quite normal when brain performance decreases with age and this is no reason to despair.