Memory And Old Age

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,067
16,585
The Misty Mountains
At the age of 61, I have a good overall sense of my situation, for most things life goes normally. But there are some troubling instances when I'm forgetting short term stuff. For example recently I ordered 2 items from Amazon, a small box came, and while I could remember I had ordered a new paper shredder, I could not remember the item in this small box, until I opened it and remembered I had ordered a AA battery charger. I'm having no issues with passwords and such, but I've started taking notes to help my retention when reading novels. And I seem to be dropping the ball with bill paying, not horrendously so, but I usually get a couple of late payments per year. Most of my recurring bills are now on auto pay,

And for the last 30 years I've been walking into rooms for a reason forgotten, until I return to where I started and the reason magically reappears. Decades ago, I asked my doctor about it, walking into a room and forgetting why and he reassured me that this is a factor of modern life, multi-tasking, not focusing on a single task. Keep in mind this was when I worked as an airline pilot, and did not have memory or organizational problems in the flight deck.

Upon the Amazon incident ;), I decided research is in order and plan on taking the SAGE test. My Mom suffered from Dimentia, (not Alzheimer's) and was always concerned about her deteriorating memory. From that aspect, the good thing is that if you are worried about it, Alzheimer's, then that is not what is plaguing you. :)
Just looking for perspective from our MRs senior citizens. :)
Thanks!
 

jacobclause

macrumors member
May 22, 2014
70
0
At the age of 61, I have a good overall sense of my situation, for most things life goes normally. But there are some troubling instances when I'm forgetting short term stuff. For example recently I ordered 2 items from Amazon, a small box came, and while I could remember I had ordered a new paper shredder, I could not remember the item in this small box, until I opened it and remembered I had ordered a AA battery charger. I'm having no issues with passwords and such, but I've started taking notes to help my retention when reading novels. And I seem to be dropping the ball with bill paying, not horrendously so, but I usually get a couple of late payments per year. Most of my recurring bills are now on auto pay,

And for the last 30 years I've been walking into rooms for a reason forgotten, until I return to where I started and the reason magically reappears. Decades ago, I asked my doctor about it, walking into a room and forgetting why and he reassured me that this is a factor of modern life, multi-tasking, not focusing on a single task. Keep in mind this was when I worked as an airline pilot, and did not have memory or organizational problems in the flight deck.

Upon the Amazon incident ;), I decided research is in order and plan on taking the SAGE test. My Mom suffered from Dimentia, (not Alzheimer's) and was always concerned about her deteriorating memory. From that aspect, the good thing is that if you are worried about it, Alzheimer's, then that is not what is plaguing you. :)
Just looking for perspective from our MRs senior citizens. :)
Thanks!
Well, I'm not a senior (still 29) but I know that my grandfather has pretty bad dementia. The doctors told him to give his brain more exercises, like memorizing something (like the order of the presidents) or menial activity to keep your brain active (sudoku puzzles, etc) to combat short term memory loss. Not sure if that is scientific or not, but I remember them telling him to do that to slow the process.
 

Happybunny

macrumors 68000
Sep 9, 2010
1,752
1,351
I’m 69 going on 70, and so far my memory is holding up very well.

In the daily life, I have no trouble with family and friends birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc. I can easily remember pin codes for bank pass fuel pass and credit card access code computers etc. I have no real problem with giving or receiving directions in a town or a city, I can easily remember shopping lists for food at the super market.

I regularly play cards Bridge and Canasta, I play at least once a week a game of chess, I’m in the process of learning Russian.

I keep the mind active by reading the newspapers in German, French, English and my native Dutch. I also watch films and TV progams in the above languages, I try to read a least one book a week.

The only thing I have always had problems with was telephone numbers, I could remember the number but never combine it with the name. Of course the Smart phone makes this a thing of the past.:apple:

My grandfather and my mother and father were all clear of mind up until they died. My grandfather died at age 92 yrs, my mother 91yrs, and my father 87yrs.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,067
16,585
The Misty Mountains
I’m 69 going on 70, and so far my memory is holding up very well.

In the daily life, I have no trouble with family and friends birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc. I can easily remember pin codes for bank pass fuel pass and credit card access code computers etc. I have no real problem with giving or receiving directions in a town or a city, I can easily remember shopping lists for food at the super market.

I regularly play cards Bridge and Canasta, I play at least once a week a game of chess, I’m in the process of learning Russian.

I keep the mind active by reading the newspapers in German, French, English and my native Dutch. I also watch films and TV progams in the above languages, I try to read a least one book a week.

The only thing I have always had problems with was telephone numbers, I could remember the number but never combine it with the name. Of course the Smart phone makes this a thing of the past.:apple:

My grandfather and my mother and father were all clear of mind up until they died. My grandfather died at age 92 yrs, my mother 91yrs, and my father 87yrs.
That's good to hear! I'd describe myself as clear of mind, other than fudging some details and staying focused on tasks. The latter could be an issue where I seem to have multiple things running through my head at once and not maintaining focus, being distracted, or moving onto the next thing before the current task is complete. Seeing a package and not remembering what I had ordered, really got my attention, though.

----------

Well, I'm not a senior (still 29) but I know that my grandfather has pretty bad dementia. The doctors told him to give his brain more exercises, like memorizing something (like the order of the presidents) or menial activity to keep your brain active (sudoku puzzles, etc) to combat short term memory loss. Not sure if that is scientific or not, but I remember them telling him to do that to slow the process.
I do puzzles and play games frequently :):)
 

chown33

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 9, 2009
8,376
4,361
Pumpkindale
I was going to reply earlier to say "Me too", but I forgot.

Now what was I going to do next, lunch or laundry?
 

vrDrew

macrumors 65816
Jan 31, 2010
1,317
11,838
Midlife, Midwest
My Mom suffered from Dimentia, (not Alzheimer's) and was always concerned about her deteriorating memory
Age-related memory loss is not the same as dementia.

My aunt (my mom's sister) suffers quite badly from short-term memory loss. So much so that both my mom and my cousin (her daughter) were very worried about it.

But memory loss (which all us suffer from, to a greater or lesser degree) is quite different from age-related dementia. The symptoms of dementia would be acting irrationally. Saying nonsensical things. etc.

There are a number of strategies one can employee to help with memory-related issues. Writing things down, and sticking to a schedule helps. Drawing out diagrams or maps of important things helps also - since the activity helps "reinforce" the neural pathways.

Bigger picture, it can help to "exercise" your brain through mental puzzles, crosswords, sudokus, etc.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,067
16,585
The Misty Mountains
Age-related memory loss is not the same as dementia.

My aunt (my mom's sister) suffers quite badly from short-term memory loss. So much so that both my mom and my cousin (her daughter) were very worried about it.

But memory loss (which all us suffer from, to a greater or lesser degree) is quite different from age-related dementia. The symptoms of dementia would be acting irrationally. Saying nonsensical things. etc.

There are a number of strategies one can employee to help with memory-related issues. Writing things down, and sticking to a schedule helps. Drawing out diagrams or maps of important things helps also - since the activity helps "reinforce" the neural pathways.

Bigger picture, it can help to "exercise" your brain through mental puzzles, crosswords, sudokus, etc.
This is exactly why I posted in the MacRumors forum! Thanks! :) I've always assumed that serious memory loss (I'm not there yet) was considered a form of dementia. Research on my part is in order. I do Sudoku and play lots of games, playing around with sites like Lumosity, and I write things down, so maybe I'm headed in the right direction. ;)
 

Happybunny

macrumors 68000
Sep 9, 2010
1,752
1,351
That's good to hear! I'd describe myself as clear of mind, other than fudging some details and staying focused on tasks. The latter could be an issue where I seem to have multiple things running through my head at once and not maintaining focus, being distracted, or moving onto the next thing before the current task is complete. Seeing a package and not remembering what I had ordered, really got my attention, though.


I honestly do not see a problem, if it's only an isolated incident, these things happen from time to time, and especially if you have more thing on your mind.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
Original poster
May 5, 2008
17,067
16,585
The Misty Mountains
I honestly do not see a problem, if it's only an isolated incident, these things happen from time to time, and especially if you have more thing on your mind.
Thanks! I found this article: Age-Related Memory Loss which was very helpful. :)

Normal age-related memory changes
*Able to function independently and pursue normal activities, despite occasional memory lapses
*Able to recall and describe incidents of forgetfulness
*May pause to remember directions, but doesn’t get lost in familiar places
*Occasional difficulty finding the right word, but no trouble holding a conversation
*Judgment and decision-making ability the same as always

Symptoms that may indicate dementia
*Difficulty performing simple tasks (paying bills, dressing appropriately, washing up); forgetting how to do things you’ve done many times
*Unable to recall or describe specific instances where memory loss caused problems
*Gets lost or disoriented even in familiar places; unable to follow directions
*Words are frequently forgotten, misused, or garbled; Repeats phrases and stories in same conversation
*Trouble making choices; May show poor judgment or behave in socially inappropriate ways
 

Macky-Mac

macrumors 68030
May 18, 2004
2,589
1,142
At the age of 61, I have a good overall sense of my situation, for most things life goes normally. But there are some troubling instances when I'm forgetting short term stuff......
so.........do you remember starting this thread? :eek:

I’m 69 going on 70, and so far my memory is holding up very well....
except for the 1960s of course :p
 

citizenzen

macrumors 65816
Mar 22, 2010
1,433
11,628
At 53, I'm closing in on Senior status, and am less worried about memory than other aspects of cognition and personality.

I prefer to concentrate on patience, kindness, equanimity, responsibility, joy, etc.

Those are my benchmarks for a healthy mind.
 

localoid

macrumors 68020
Feb 20, 2007
2,428
1,722
America's Third World
At 53, I'm closing in on Senior status, and am less worried about memory than other aspects of cognition and personality.

I prefer to concentrate on patience, kindness, equanimity, responsibility, joy, etc.

Those are my benchmarks for a healthy mind.
I take it that you've never personally experienced what Alzheimer's disease does to someone(?)
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
45,559
30,765
The Far Horizon
At 53, I'm closing in on Senior status, and am less worried about memory than other aspects of cognition and personality.

I prefer to concentrate on patience, kindness, equanimity, responsibility, joy, etc.

Those are my benchmarks for a healthy mind.
Objectively, I tend to agree with you; for someone seeking to cultivate a positive world view as they mature further with age, this is a nicely expressed, perfectly reasonable and most commendable set of values, values that anyone, irrespective of age, should be encouraged to view with respect.

I take it that you've never personally experienced what Alzheimer's disease does to someone(?)
Subjectively: Fair comment. And, to answer the question asked, yes, I have.

And it is absolutely awful, a hideous hell on earth - a living never-ending nightmare - to watch someone you love succumb to dementia, and know that this is an inevitable trajectory with only one outcome.

As a stressor, - source of stress - nothing - and I mean nothing (and I have worked in some very strange and extraordinarily stressful environments) can compare with this…..
 

citizenzen

macrumors 65816
Mar 22, 2010
1,433
11,628
I take it that you've never personally experienced what Alzheimer's disease does to someone(?)
It depends on your degree of proximity. I've known of people as close to as my father-in-law who in his 90's developed mental issues (I don't think he was diagnosed) or his long-time neighbor who's Alzheimer's changed her from a vibrant woman into a shell of a human being. I personally experience some of that. But no immediate family member has succumbed to it.

Here's an analogy. I know you'll hate it. Try no to get too crabby.

I could get ALS and lose all my muscle control. But I don't think about that. I just try to keep myself in reasonably good physical shape. ALS will strike regardless of the condition of my body, but I benefit from the effort I put in, and it's far more likely that I'll never develop ALS, so it's smart to stay in shape.

Likewise, I could get Alzheimer's and lose all mental control. But I don't let that stop me from valuing and practicing peace, patience, kindness, and equanimity. I'm conditioning my mind, which will benefit me whether I develop Alzheimer's or not ... and it's more likely that I won't.
 

senseless

macrumors 68000
Apr 23, 2008
1,762
152
Pennsylvania, USA
Even the word, "Dementia", is awful sounding. They should come up with a descriptive better than something out of a horror movie. As far as going into a room and forgetting why, you may have had too many things going on and displaced the thought temporarily.
 

aaronvan

Suspended
Dec 21, 2011
1,349
9,287
República Cascadia
Doctor: I have two pieces of bad news for you.

Patient: What's the first piece of bad news?

Doctor: You have cancer.

Patient: What's the second?

Doctor: You have memory loss.

Patient: Wow. Well, at least I don't have cancer.

That, from an uncle who is slipping into the early stages and jokes about it.

I think memory loss affects all of us. I'm on the downhill side of Century Mountain and I'm certainly noticing it.
 

localoid

macrumors 68020
Feb 20, 2007
2,428
1,722
America's Third World
It depends on your degree of proximity. I've known of people as close to as my father-in-law who in his 90's developed mental issues (I don't think he was diagnosed) or his long-time neighbor who's Alzheimer's changed her from a vibrant woman into a shell of a human being. I personally experience some of that. But no immediate family member has succumbed to it.

Here's an analogy. I know you'll hate it. Try no to get too crabby.

I could get ALS and lose all my muscle control. But I don't think about that. I just try to keep myself in reasonably good physical shape. ALS will strike regardless of the condition of my body, but I benefit from the effort I put in, and it's far more likely that I'll never develop ALS, so it's smart to stay in shape.

Likewise, I could get Alzheimer's and lose all mental control. But I don't let that stop me from valuing and practicing peace, patience, kindness, and equanimity. I'm conditioning my mind, which will benefit me whether I develop Alzheimer's or not ... and it's more likely that I won't.
Let me bore you with a cautionary tale. You seem to believe you're not very likely to develop Alzheimer's. That exactly how my mother felt, well into her mid-70s. After all, she had never smoked, never been overweight, still exercised regularly every day, and had a BP reading that most 40 year olds wished they had. She kept her mind active, still practiced her shorthand skills, transcribing the dialog from TV shows she'd listen to and constantly finding new skills to learn. I gave her a computer and she learned to use a word processing program. She constantly read books, wrote letters, compiled local history, went to the movies with friends, traveled, socialized, and was involved in organizing various community projects. She could easily handle a 5-6 mile hike, and could drive for 6-hours on the Interstate with ease. Her mother had lived to be 84, and had been active until the day she died, with no signs of any mental impairments what-so-ever.

But despite of of that, and reaching her mid-70s and seemingly being physically and mentally healthy, for some reason, my mother suddenly began to exhibit signs of mental confusion. Small, but noticeable signs, that were very much out of character for her. I began urging her to see a doctor. She resisted, insisting she was fine. Her friends insisted she was fine. When she finally saw a doctor, he said she appeared fine.

As more time passed, I saw more signs. She reached to point of talking about "making time jumps" one day, and I took her to the ER, where I was told she had cat-scratch disease, which had apparently caused her to experience delirium.

A short time passed, then after she didn't answer her phone, I found her face down on the floor, semiconscious. At this point, a series test were finally run, but still no conclusive signs of Alzheimer's were found, nor were any evidence found of her having a stroke.

Months passed and she kept getting worse, withdrawing from any social life, physical activities, etc. All she wanted to do was watch TV all day, something she'd never done before. She kept insisting she was just getting older. Her friend insisted she was fine -- just let her relax and enjoy TV. She doesn't need to go to another doctor. Leave her alone.

Then, one day I went home to find her with her head down on the kitchen table, crying. She'd just watch the TV reports on the nightly news regarding the public announcement that President Reagan had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease earlier in the year. She kept saying "Now I realize what's wrong with me." And her next words were "There's no cure. No hope. I just wish I could just die now before I completely lose my mind. Is that wrong?"

She had practiced "peace, patience, kindness, and equanimity" all her life, and within her local community she was one of the few person who could diffuse virtually any disagreement with calmness, kindness, and wisdom. She could motive practically anyone or any group "to do the right thing" and had a gift for manipulating (in a caring way) people's opinions to her way of thinking.

But her ability to win over and influence people "to her side" was her undoing in regards to Alzheimer's. When doctors had interviewed her years earlier, it was she that was in control, and she could skillfully get out of any corners she might be boxed into. Every doctor had been convinced she was fine -- she was just a little forgetful -- nothing to worry about -- but in reality she knew how to hide the signs, and to put on a "good show". I was about the only person who had worried about her mental state. I was told countless times by doctors, friends, family -- she's fine -- you're overreacting. She could have been diagnosed years sooner, but I suppose it really wouldn't have mattered much...

Within a few months, my mom started having problem walking, then she reached the point of not being able to walk without using a cane. Within a few more months, she needed a wheelchair. And she gradually forgot how to do more and more things, and would forget who I was, what year it was, etc.

I managed to keep her in her home and cared for, by hiring people to stay with her. I suppose that gave her some comfort, but each day, she drift further away from reality, and would "time travel" into the past on some days and oddly enough, into the future on other days. She'd claim she had taken a ride on a steam train back to 1936 in the morning, and then talk about how "the spaceship from the other world would be coming soon to pick her up" later in the afternoon. Playing her piano was about the only skill she managed to hold onto until the end.

Personally, I do hope if I start showing the early signs of losing my mental faculties, that might hint I'm displaying the early signs of Alzheimer's, that I'll be able to admit to it, rather than trying to hide it. Not that it may matter very much... but perhaps there's something that can be done to give me enough time to wrap up at least a decent "bucket list" while I'm still able to do so.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,855
30,369
Boston
I'm approaching the big 50 and so far I've not run into any memory issues.

I'm typically very engaged mentally and physically. I work out, by running 5 days a week, I take cardio classes 4 days a week and take karate classes 4 to 5 days a week.

Thanks to karate, I'm also very engaged mentally, There's a lot to memorize and keep recalling.

I also like to read, though that has taken a back seat as I prepare for my black belt and focus most of my free time on that.
 

Roller

macrumors 68030
Jun 25, 2003
2,527
964
Like the OP, I'm 61. My short term memory loss is typically manifest in situations where I think of something I want to look up, but get distracted by something else I see online and forget what I wanted to research in the first place. I also have more difficulty recalling facts like movie titles than I used to.

I generally chalk this up to aging. However, it's also worth noting that folks nowadays have so much to remember, especially in first-world societies: login names, passwords, landline and cell numbers, email addresses, web sites, account numbers, places, people, travel routes... the list goes on and on.

Compare that to just 100 years ago, when circles of relatives, friends, and co-workers were smaller and most of the other items didn't exist. Perhaps our brains haven't evolved to handle the volume of information, which is why the notion that we only use a small percentage of cerebral capacity is so attractive in science fiction, as is machine-augmented intelligence.