Memory Spring Monthly

Contributors to Increased Forgetfulness

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We all suffer from forgetfulness.  Every day we have our senior moments.  Some days are better than others.  It’s when we get a sense that our forgetfulness is increasing that throws us into a panic. We begin to freak out and believe that we’re on the road to Alzheimer’s.  Calm down! In most cases we’re not on that road, however, it makes sense to begin evaluating what might be contributing to increased forgetfulness.
 
Here are a number of known contributors to forgetfulness:
 
Alcohol – It’s commonly known that alcohol impairs brain function.  One or two servings of wine (or other alcohol beverage) per day are considered good for your health, however, chronic alcohol consumption can seriously impair memory functions. If you’re on medications at the same time you’re consuming alcohol, you could be serving yourself a true memory numbing cocktail. 
 

Anxiety/stress – Anxiety and stress are major contributors to forgetfulness. We all deal with anxiety and stress. Things like our jobs, our financial situation, life changes, people, and a host of other things in our lives create anxiety and stress.  The problem is that anxiety and stress can interfere with attention and block the formation of new memories or the retrieval of old ones. In addition, heightened stress and anxiety causes the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, which over time, causes problems with memory.

Depression - Depression is frequently associated with memory problems, most likely because depression arises from abnormal functioning of brain areas that are also very important for memory.  In 2005 the journal "Cognitive Neuropsychiatry" published research findings that summarized the effects of depression on the mental processes involved in memory including attention, sensory processing, awareness and sustained effort. In addition, depression can cause forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating and other problems that disrupt daily activities.   

Heart problems – Our heart is the vital organ that pumps oxygen rich blood to all parts of the body including our brain.  Even though our brain is a very small percentage of our body weight, it requires 20% of our blood supply to operate correctly.  When your ticker starts having problems and there’s not enough blood getting to the brain, your memory starts to struggle. Another term for lack of proper blood flow to the brain is called vascular dementia. It is believed to be different from the loss of memory and function that happens in Alzheimer’s disease, which is linked to the buildup of proteins in the brain. 

Hypothyroidism (Underactive thyroid) – Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body lacks sufficient  thyroid hormone. It slows the processing of nutrients to create energy for cells (metabolism). Hypothyroidism can cause forgetfulness and other thinking problems. It’s important to get your thyroid checked on a regular basis. 

Lack of sleep - Lack of adequate sleep has a significant impact on our memory and brain health. According to Medical News Today, lack of sleep can affect an individual's memory, ability to perform simple daily tasks, and attention span. Additional research has revealed that even minimal sleep loss takes a toll on your mood, energy, alertness, decision-making, and ability to handle stress.  

Medications  - There are many medications that contribute to memory loss.  Medications such as antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and pain medications are all known contributors to memory issues. In many cases, they make it difficult to pay close attention to new things and absorb information. These aren’t the only types of medications, even some heart medications have an impact.  Contact your physician on which of your existing medications might have an impact on your memory. 

Vitamin B-12 Deficiency – According to the Mayo Clinic Vitamin B-12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. A vitamin B-12 deficiency — common in older adults — can cause memory problems. Vitamin B-12 is found naturally in foods that come from animals, including fish, meat and poultry. Many breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin B-12 as well. Speak with your doctor if you're concerned that you're not getting enough vitamin B-12. 

 

Remember to take the time to check out these contributors. They might just help improve your memory and eliminate some of those dimentia panics. For more information, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or just call us at (530) 297-6464.