Is It Just Normal Aging? (Or Am I Losing My Mind?) Two simple ways to tell

Through­out your life, you expe­ri­ence an occa­sion­al mem­o­ry lapse or momen­tary brain con­fu­sion. Then, as you age, these moments can become more fre­quent. And more anx­i­ety-pro­vok­ing.

Nor­mal, healthy aging is chal­leng­ing enough to cope with. But when mem­o­ry prob­lems become more fre­quent, are they an ear­ly warn­ing sign of Alzheimer’s or anoth­er vari­ety of demen­tia?

Here are two sim­ple ways to assess your­self.

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Reconstructive vs. Recollective Memory

Can’t remem­ber a word? For­get someone’s name? These are exam­ples of loss of “rec­ol­lec­tive mem­o­ry” – the abil­i­ty to sum­mon an exact word (or name) divorced from its con­text.

This type of mem­o­ry loss is con­sid­ered a nor­mal com­po­nent of healthy aging.

On the oth­er hand, there’s also “recon­struc­tive mem­o­ry”, which refers to the abil­i­ty to piece togeth­er clues, infer mean­ing and grasp con­text. Exam­ples include plac­ing events into a log­i­cal sequence, remem­ber­ing the rela­tion­ship between var­i­ous fam­i­ly mem­bers, and gen­er­al­ly con­nect­ing the dots between ideas.

Some­one with this more com­plex type of mem­o­ry decline might need fur­ther test­ing by a neu­rol­o­gist or geri­atric spe­cial­ist.

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Shopping & Balancing Your Checkbook

With an intact brain, you can eas­i­ly man­age the basic activ­i­ties of dai­ly liv­ing, such as dri­ving, food prepa­ra­tion, dress­ing, etc. But if your brain has start­ed to go south for the win­ter, even these sim­ple tasks can become a chal­lenge.

In fact, researchers have shown that the abil­i­ty to per­form two spe­cif­ic tasks — shop­ping and bal­anc­ing a check­book – cor­re­lates extreme­ly well with your over­all cog­ni­tive func­tion. If you can per­form these two jobs with rea­son­able pro­fi­cien­cy, your brain is unlike­ly to be expe­ri­enc­ing med­ical­ly-rel­e­vant cog­ni­tive impair­ment.

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About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods.

His website, askdrlavine.com, provides more information about his approach.

Please contact him at drlavine@yourbodyofknowledge.com or at 212-400-9663.

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