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Memory Loss

Some memory loss occurs and the brain starts to process information slowly as we grow older. It is sometimes difficult to know when memory loss is normal and when you have a problem, especially when memory loss first begins. Many people accept that occasionally misplacing an item or forgetting to pick up something at the store is a normal part of aging. However, memory loss is no longer normal when it begins to disrupt your life or that of your families.

What is mild cognitive impairment? And how is it different from the memory loss of normal ageing?

Mild cognitive impairment is a distinct medical condition that is separately from and more serious than memory loss associated with ageing. Individuals who have memory loss of normal ageing sometimes misplace an item, forget someone's name, or forget to pick something up at the store. However, people with mild cognitive impairment have a memory impairment beyond that expected for age and education, yet are not demented. They may have much difficulty in learning new information or recalling previously learned information. They are also suffered from frequent forgetfulness.

Is mild cognitive impairment equal to dementia/Alzheimer’s disease? And is there any connection between mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease?

People with mild cognitive impairment do not necessarily develop Alzheimer's disease. It is rather a risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease. It was found that people aged over 65 who are diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment are at increased risk to develop Alzheimer's disease at a rate of 12 to 15 percent per year.

Below is a table showing some general differences between the memory loss caused by normal ageing and disease-related factors:


Normal Ageing

Disease-related Factors
(e.g. dementia)

Content of an experience

Partly forgotten

Wholly forgotten

Retrieval of the content being forgotten

Usually can recall the content afterwards

Rarely can recall the content afterwards

Following verbal or written instructions

Usually can follow without difficulty

Gradual decline in ability to follow instructions

Making judgment

Intact ability

Having difficulty in making judgment

Insight towards memory loss

Awareness in having such problem

No insight or denial of having such problem

Self-care ability

Intact ability

Gradual deterioration

Can memory loss be treated? Is there any way to reduce the risk of memory loss and improve your memory?

It seems that memory loss caused by normal ageing cannot be avoided. For treating the memory loss caused by mild cognitive impairment and early dementia, there are now some medications available and their effectiveness on slowing down the progression of deterioration and improving memory are being studied. Though memory loss cannot be reversed yet, there is something you can do to reduce its risk and improve your ability of remembering:

Seek medical consultation for the presence of other health problems

Memory loss may also be caused by some conditions other than normal ageing or dementia, such as hypertension, heart disease, stress, diabetes, depression and so on.

Review your lifestyle habits and make positive changes

    •  Quit unhealthy habits such as smoking and over consumption of alcohol as they will increase the risk of
    developing mild cognitive impairment.

    •  Establish a balanced & healthy diet. Try to take an adequate amount of vitamins & minerals by eating fruits
    & vegetables to keep your brain healthy.

    •  Maintain physically fit. It is well-known that a healthy body is beneficial to keeping a stronger mind.

    •  Reduce your stress. Focus on keeping and making the best use of what you have got rather than getting
    back what you have lost.

    •  Be socially active in daily life. Your brain remains active and strong when you are engaging in mental
    activities throughout the daily life.

    •  Use compensatory methods to assist your memory. Use dairy, jot notes, keep daily log, use alarm clock as
    a reminder and use of other memory coping strategies to enhance the ability of remembering as well as
    improve everyday function.

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