Haven’t most of us who have entered middle age wondered at times if we are having a “senior moment?” A recent article in Harvard Men’s Health Watch suggests we not let the stress of worrying about memory slips actually contribute to them. The article says there are “four horsemen of forgetfulness” in the aging brain – they include anxiety, depression, lack of sleep and stress. Often as we age and memory may decline, people become concerned that they are sliding into Alzheimer’s. Stress and anxiety make it harder to concentrate and hold onto new information. Depression can hamper memory, as can alcohol consumption – and mood changes and sleep deprivation are among the most common causes of problems with memory.
Dr. Anne Fabiny, chief of geriatrics at Cambridge Health Alliance and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School says, “If it’s worse than it was a few months ago, or somebody is asking you about it, that would definitely be something to see a doctor about.” However, Dr. Fabiny believes sometimes we just need to give our brains a break. “As you get older, it may become more difficult to maintain a high level of attention for several things at once. Dividing your attention can definitely cause you to think you are having memory problems.” Sounds like taking a break from multi-tasking can be a positive step! Harvard Health Publications February 2013