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Where did I put my keys?

Wondering where you put something or why you came into a room is not unusual at any age. As we get older, though, it seems to happen more frequently.

If you think about all the information your brain collects over a lifetime, it only seems logical that recalling certain details requires more time and effort. According to the National Institute on Aging, it's normal to expect some memory loss with age. This type of "memory problem" is more often annoying than serious. A number of factors can affect how your mind functions: depression, medication or even heart or lung problems.

When should you see a doctor?

"When memory loss begins suddenly or significantly interferes with your daily functioning, it may indicate a more serious problem," says William Schwab, MD, Ph.D., A.G.S.F., chief of Geriatric Medicine and lead physician for Dementia for the Kaiser Permanente Ohio region. According to Dr. Schwab, some of the tell-tale signs of memory loss that aren't a normal part of aging include:

  • Difficulty performing previously well-learned tasks such as cooking or hobbies
  • Difficulty using or understanding words
  • Getting lost in places you know well
  • Trouble recognizing familiar people
Can Alzheimer's disease be prevented?

You can't prevent Alzheimer's disease, but there are some tips that can help. Dr. Schwab recommends establishing a routine and following it.

For example, "if you take your medication at the same time every day you are more likely to remember it," says Schwab. "You can improve your mood and memory function by participating in social and community activities. Additionally, activities and exercise, such as brisk walking, may help boost and maintain brain function."

For more information, visit kp.org/healthyaging.

Posted 8/24/12

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Jaime Lebrón of Kaiser Permanente - Expert

Senior Health Insurance expert
Jaime Lebrón
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