As we get older we do seem to forget things more often – like where we left our keys, or someone’s name – and we seem to need lists for everything! People often ask, does this mean I am developing dementia?
It is true that the brain does change with age, but the changes are more subtle than people think. The changes include:
- Shrinkage of brain cells (neurons)
- Loss of the ability to rearrange connections between neurons (plasticity)
- Damage by free radicals (molecules that react easily with other molecules, thereby damaging other cells in the body)
- Certain areas in the brain are more vulnerable than others.
- The areas most at risk are those involved with memory, learning and complex mental activities such as planning.
If you are concerned about your memory, these differences may guide you.