Perspective | Is my memory going or is it just normal aging? –

Surveys show that half of middle-aged adults suffer from dementia. Of particular interest are those who feel isolated, sleep less, or appreciate a person with impaired memory. Fear of cognitive disease is common; Scientists have found that humans are human beings. He fears dementia more than any other leading cause of death such as heart disease and stroke.

Decades of research have shown that cognitive change with age is perfectly normal. Most Adults Failed Facial Recognition and Remember New Information Begins at age 30 and continues to decline throughout life. This means that the typical retiree is able to remember fewer items from a longer shopping list than his 20-year-old grandson, even if both are cognitively normal. Memory for well-learned facts takes longer, but even these skills eventually wear off. So the question about a problem with the brain is “Did I give up?” not. But “Did I give up too much?”

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False cognitive assessments

We are clearly wrong in evaluating our own cognition. Research shows that we perform particularly poorly when it comes to digitization. Processing speed and agility. When Alzheimer’s or other diseases are present, our ability to self-assess our cognitive abilities becomes even less reliable, starting in the early stages of the disease. In these cases, the loss of self-awareness is so common that it is sometimes included in the diagnostic criteria of the disease.

So how do you know if they are experiencing a normal aging process or something more important?

Instead of judging yourself, ask a close friend or family member to identify if you have a problem. Research shows that a partner’s affirmation is more reliable than a person’s opinion about memory and thinking skills. The most useful questionnaires are not filled out by patients with cognitive impairment, but by those who know them. In my memory clinic, we compensate for imperfect self-awareness by asking patients to come and see a friend or family member with whom we can speak separately.

As cognitive specialists, we value brain health on two levels.

Let’s take a look at the macroscope first: How well does a human being in the real world? We read if the patient forgot to pay the bills, got lost on family journeys or left ingredients out of the recipes. We discuss the challenges of word search and behavioral changes.

Second, let’s guess what’s going on inside us on a microscopic scale: Do we suspect that harmful molecules are building up in the patient’s brain? Our brain is made up of multiple septillions of molecules, each of which is made up of bonded atoms, similar to Lego blocks. Many of these molecules help us evolve, but some can attack us, destroying the organ they are supposed to serve. We don’t always know exactly which molecules cause Alzheimer’s and similar conditions, but we usually know which abnormal molecules are associated with pain.

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To assess whether a dangerous molecule has accumulated in a patient’s brain, we use brain game-like thought tests capable of memory, multitasking, language skills and spatial judgment.

We look at images of the patient’s brain, usually an MRI, in which we look for small or damaged areas. Sometimes we combine additional results with blood or spinal fluid. In gathering the information together, we propose which abnormal molecules it collects in the human brain. “If I look at a part of your brain under a microscope, I can tell my patients:” I doubt I’ll find it. “

Alzheimer’s disease, Levi’s body disease, frontoral dementia and other types of dementia, each involved in specific molecular changes, so linking them to the microscopic roots of human symptoms allows us to predict what will happen to the patient in the future. Three people who start repeating a conversation can face a completely different fate. The person whose symptoms are caused by Alzheimer’s continues with progressive amnesia. The latter, whose recurrence is caused by frontal temporal dementia, can be remarkably disabling. Another, without the buildup of problem molecules in the brain, can eventually stop repetitive behavior and return to normal once mood symptoms or sleep problems are resolved.

Predicting which molecule is associated with a patient’s disease is important not only for prognosis but also for drug detection. The idea of ​​a cure for dementia – a magic pill or a universal vaccine – is long gone. A drug that treats Alzheimer’s is unlikely to help people with frontal temporal dementia, as these diseases are thought to be caused by a variety of molecular catastrophes. The same goes for the treatment of Levi’s bodily dementia or Huntington’s disease. So scientists are looking for multiple drugs at once, all of which would work on a particular bad molecule.

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personalized medications

Treatment for dementia will ultimately be an arsenal of drugs that doctors can tailor to each patient based on the unique molecular signatures in an individual’s brain.

The search for treatment continues, and if you have memory problems, the most valuable thing you can do is talk to a friend or family member. “Can you keep an eye on my memory and my thinking,” you might ask. “And tell me honestly if I look worse than people my age.” If this person is unsure, consult your doctor.

If everything seems normal for your age group, put your worry aside and ask again in six months; Statistically speaking, you can rest assured that your family and friends probably know you best.

In the meantime, stop thinking about forgetting the names of people you know and leaving the keys on the kitchen counter. In most cases, these are just signs of normal cognitive aging.

Source: Washington Post