Forgetfulness is a common complaint and feature of the elderly.
It is perfectly normal to forget things from time to time. It is also absolutely normal to become somewhat more forgetful as you age. The issue is how much is the level of forgetfulness is considered too much or pathological? How can you tell whether your memory lapses are within the scope of normal aging or signifying serious medical conditions?
Healthy people can experience memory loss or memory distortion at any age. Some of these memory flaws become more pronounced with age, but — unless they are extreme and persistent — they are not considered indicators of Alzheimer’s or other memory-impairing illnesses.
Of the memory loss, it may be described in 7 different categories as listed below.
It is the tendency of every one of us to forget facts or what we remember over time. You are most likely to forget information soon after you learn it. It is pleased to note that memories that are called up and used frequently are least likely to be forgotten. This is either you use it or forget it kind of memory. Transience memory loss might seem like a sign of memory weakness, the scientists regard it as beneficial. This is because it clears the brain of unused memories, making way for newer, more useful ones. It is more like an economic of space. The space in the memory bank can only put in so much information to memorise. More than this there is no more room to accomodate it.
This type of forgetting occurs when you don’t pay close enough attention on what you are doing at that moment of time. For example: you forget where you just put your book because you didn’t focus on where you put it in the first place. You were probably thinking of something else (or, perhaps, nothing in particular, such as your mind is simply blank without making attention to remember), so your brain didn’t encode the information securely. Absentmindedness also involves forgetting to do something at a prescribed time, like taking your medicine or keeping an appointment.
Someone might be asking you a question and you have the answer which is right on the tip of your tongue. You know that you know it and have the answer, but you just can not recall of it. This is the most familiar example of blocking. The blocking is the temporary inability to retrieve a memory. The barrier is a memory similar to the one you’re looking for, and you retrieve the wrong one. This competing memory is so intrusive that you can not think of the memory you want.
This kind of memory blocks become more common with age. Memory block account for the trouble older people have remembering other people’s names. Various studies have shown that people are able to retrieve about half of the blocked memories within just a short time of a minute.
Misattribution occurs when you remember something accurately in part, but misattribute some detail, like the time, place, or person involved. Another kind of misattribution occurs when you believe a thought you had was totally original when, in fact, it came from something you had previously read or heard but had forgotten about. This sort of misattribution explains cases of unintentional plagiarism, in which a writer passes off some information as original when he or she actually read it somewhere before.
As with several other kinds of memory lapses, misattribution becomes more common with age. As you age, you absorb fewer details when acquiring information because you have somewhat more trouble concentrating and processing information rapidly. As you grow older, your memories grow older as well. And old memories are especially prone to misattribution.
Suggestibility is the vulnerability of your memory to the power of suggestion. Some people call it autosuggestion. This means your mind is suggesting an information that you learn about an occurrence after the fact becomes incorporated into your memory of the incident, even though you did not experience these details. Very little is known about the mechanism as to how suggestibility works in the brain, the suggestion fools your mind into thinking it’s a real memory.
Even the best and the sharpest memory isn’t a flawless snapshot of reality. Lying within your memory, your perceptions are filtered by your personal biases. These biases come in the form of your past experiences, beliefs, prior knowledge, and even your mood at the moment. Your biases affect your perceptions and experiences when they’re being encoded in your brain. And when you retrieve a memory, your mood and other biases at that moment can influence what information you actually recall.
Although everyone’s attitudes and preconceived notions bias their memories, there’s been virtually no research on the brain mechanisms behind memory bias or whether it becomes more common with age.
Most people worry about forgetting things. On the contrary, there are memories that never goes away when we wish it will. In some cases people are tormented by memories they wish they could forget, but can’t. The persistence of memories of traumatic events, negative feelings, and ongoing fears is another form of memory problem. Some of these memories accurately reflect horrifying events, while others may be negative distortions of reality.
People suffering from certain conditions such as depression, stress, anxiety are particularly prone to having persistent, disturbing memories. So are people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can result from many different forms of traumatic exposures. PTSD for such incidences, for example, sexual abuse or wartime experiences are especially traumatic. Flashbacks, which are persistent, intrusive memories of the traumatic event, are a core feature of PTSD.