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The Truth behind Senior Moments: What’s Normal & What’s Not

By Dian Brannen, 9:00 am on

“Senior moments” are often brushed aside instances of forgetting little things here and there. For live-in, part-time, and respite caregivers in the Lehigh Valley, such moments tend to illicit concerns about potentially more serious memory problems linked to dementia-related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Developing an understanding of when memory lapses are normal and when it’s time for further evaluation can provide some much-appreciated peace of mind for caregivers and their senior loved ones.

Normal Memory Lapses

Occasionally forgetting the date, losing keys or failing to recall the details of a previous conversation aren’t necessarily cause of alarm. As the brain ages, more steps are needed to retrieve certain memories, accounting for some difficulty processing new memories or recalling old ones. Forms of memory loss in seniors often considered normal include:

• Blocking (“tip-of-the-tongue” moments)
• Scrambling (mixing up some details)
• Fade Out (forgetting unused or rarely discussed memories)
• Retrieval (inability to recall recently acquired information)
• Muddled multitasking (inability to successfully multitask without losing concentration)

Worrisome Memory Lapses

Forgetting the date or day occasionally is normal. Forgetting where you are or not recognizing familiar surroundings is cause for concern. Memory lapses in seniors become worrisome when instances of forgetting bits and pieces of information occur with increased frequency. Signs that memory loss may be something more than a “senior moment” include:

• Increased moodiness associated with memory lapses
• Memory lapses often combined with confusion or disorientation
• Failure to recognize familiar people and places

Reasons for ‘Senior Moments’

Hormones and proteins responsible for repairing the parts of the brain affecting memory decrease in production with age, sometimes resulting in occasional forgetfulness. The hippocampus, the part of the brain dealing with information retrieval, deteriorates over time, further contributing to memory issues. Decreased blood flow to parts of the brain that store memories can also contribute to some senior memory lapses.

While some memory lapses can occur at any age, increasing instances of forgetfulness suggest a problem requiring further evaluation. The good news for both caregivers and seniors is that some memory problems can be corrected with medication, adjustments to existing medications, dietary changes, or increased interaction to stimulate brain functioning.

Interested in learning more about what you can do to help your senior loved one preserve mental acuity and cognition? Reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior care Lehigh Valley families trust. Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to promote healthy cognitive function and stave off memory loss.

Although CTM can be especially beneficial for seniors receiving dementia or Alzheimer’s home care in the Lehigh Valley, this mental wellness program is included in all of our care services, including hourly and live-in care, at no additional cost. For more information on CTM or any of our care services, please give us a call at 484-350-3874. We look forward to speaking with you.