by Erik Lohmann, Psy.D.
“I can’t seem to remember things the way I used to.” This may be an unsettling thought that you or someone in your family has had recently, and it can be scary because it leads to more questions that you may not know the answers to or want to discover. To bring some clarity to the issue, there is some basic information you may wish to know about memory loss and aging.
Memory loss can be due to several factors.
If someone has trouble with sleep, ongoing pain / medical issues, has a loss of hearing, is on certain medication, is experiencing depression or anxiety, or is going through a life adjustment (ex. retirement, moving to a new town, loss of loved one), there can be good reasons to expect a temporary change in one’s ability to remember.
Rely on others for feedback.
Our own perceptions of our abilities are often skewed or inaccurate. This is why everyone is an above average driver! If you fear that memory loss may be impacting you, ask a family member or friend if they have noticed any changes.
Some memory lapse is normal.
It is important to recognize that everyone will have occasional moments of memory lapse (ex. misplacing objects, trouble recalling / mixing up names, forgetting why you walked into a room). It is easy to become worried if you notice the frequency of this happening, but the fact that you are noticing it happening is actually a good sign! This is because individuals developing dementia may fail to have insight into these type of changes.
Use it or lose it.
Depending on your activity level (ex. exercise, socializing with others, volunteering) and your brain-based hobbies (ex. reading, crosswords, playing games) and your overall health (ex. diet, sleep, tobacco / alcohol use), you can be proactively protecting your memory right now.
Should you or a family member have more questions or concerns about memory and the changes found in aging, Sioux Falls Psychological Services can meet you where you are, offering hope. To schedule an appointment using a confidential technology connection, you can call 605-334-2696.