Age and Memory Loss:
Is There Any Hope?

Age and memory loss: those two concepts seem to be made for each other, right? Maybe not! By the time you finish reading this article, I hope you won’t be so sure!

The Internet is full of jokes about age and memory loss such as this one:

- Doctor, I can't remember anything! I forgot what happened yesterday. I forgot what my car looks like. I can't even remember my own name.
- How long have you had this problem?
- What problem?

It is a generally accepted fact that memory declines with age. But does it mean that age and memory loss always come together?

I have it on the tip of my tongue!

I am sure you are familiar with the “tip-of-the-tongue” phenomenon: you recognize a face but can’t put a name on it; or you are looking for a word that is usually part of your vocabulary, but all you can think of is that it starts with a C and sounds like duplicate! (The word was ‘corroborate’!)

But did you know that this phenomenon happens once or twice a week when you are between 18 and 22 years old, and only two to four times per week, when you are between 65 and 75? Not much of a difference after all. You cannot point the finger at age and memory loss!

Let me explain the “tip-of-the-tongue” phenomenon. The brain stores the meaning of a word or the face image in one section, and the actual work or name in another. Sometimes, for reasons such as stress or an information overflow, the traffic gets congested, and the communication doesn’t go through. Think of gridlock at rush hour! When the pressure is released later on, the word just pops up in your head and voilà!

Why did I come here for?

There is another familiar recall problem that is not necessarily associated with age and memory loss. Whatever our age, we have all been in the situation where we go into a room with a specific intention and forget what we wanted when we get there.

I went to the den to get a book for a co-worker, but I also need to take the meat out of the freezer, to prepare for my meeting tonight, to drive the kids to their judo class, and to change my skirt because it has a stain on it. The more cluttered the mind is, the higher the probability it will discard information as being irrelevant. So chances are my co-worker won’t get the book.

Losing your train of thought

Losing your train of thought is very similar. You are thinking of too many things at once, usually preparing for the next three items you will say after this one, so the brain cannot compute and asks for time out! Thinking of only one thing at a time is generally the best way to solve this malfunction. Again age and memory loss are not to blame!

Sorry, I forgot...

“I forgot your sister’s party was yesterday.” This issue is not related to our long-term memory – stored in our subconscious mind – but to our short-term memory – stored in our conscious mind. In this case, we are trying to retrieve records that were never registered in the first place. Am I really interested in your sister’s party since I wasn’t invited anyway? In order to retain information, we need to concentrate and decide to store it away for later use.

More than 99% of the sensory information we receive is deemed irrelevant by the brain. Multitasking, stress, alcohol, drugs, fatigue and the like diminish our ability to decide what is important to keep. Consequently, the information doesn’t register. We hold our memory responsible when we should be blaming our lack of concentration.

In order to work on my concentration, I often use a product called Mental Clarity. It is a recorded hypnosis session that works on your subconscious mind and helps you develop concentration and memory. I find it very effective!

Losing her purse

What about losing essential objects such as a purse or a wallet when you know how crucial they are?

Kathy and I went shopping together. Kathy was carrying three items: her purse and two shopping bags. We stopped at a shoe store where she tried on a pair of sandals. They didn’t fit her well so she decided not to buy them. A few minutes after leaving the store, Kathy found herself holding the pair of sandals she didn’t want plus the two shopping bags, and realized her purse was still in the store. What had happened?

Since Kathy’s conscious mind was busy window-shopping, chatting, trying on shoes and strolling, her subconscious mind was doing the very basic thinking. It was aware that Kathy was carrying three items. Given that she had the pair of shoes in her hands, only two other items were needed to appease her subconscious mind, and the third item – the purse – was unfortunately left behind.

You will notice that when you leave a personal item behind, it is because your routine has been modified. If you always carry an umbrella regardless of the weather, you will never forget it! Once more, age and memory loss cannot be held responsible for this problem!

Incidentally, Kathy found her purse when she went back to the store, but she decided to keep it tied to her wrist when shopping!

So, are age and memory loss related?

As you can see, anyone can forget things. So why does our memory seem to shrink as we grow older? I admit there is truth to the fact that age and memory loss are related. According to statistics, one third of the people over 60 have recall problems, and a quarter of those over 85 suffer from a serious loss of memory. If you suspect Alzheimer’s disease or a form of dementia, click here for a free test.

But as a hypnotherapist keenly aware of the subconscious mind’s lack of perspective, I believe that factors other than age contribute to elderly memory loss.

Is it a priority?

When they retire, seniors usually don’t have to rush from place to place any longer. Instead of the .23 seconds previously allowed to find their keys, they have all the time in the world. So why would their mind make the effort to remember? Their long-term memory is typically unaffected. My 87-year-old mother can vividly describe her Grade 6 teacher or accurately recite the Pythagorean theorem, but she can’t remember what she had for lunch today! However, she knows very well that she needs to take a blue pill before breakfast, a yellow pill with lunch, and a white pill before supper. Why does she remember? Because if she doesn’t, she may die! It is a question of survival.

When something is really important to us, chances are we don’t forget. And the opposite is also true with the young. My nephew knows by heart all the lyrics of the latest rap songs. On the other hand, he has difficulty memorizing the Periodic table of the chemical elements, even though this table represents an insignificant amount of data in comparison with all the lyrics stored in his brain! In this instance, learning the periodic table is a painful process, which blocks his desire to concentrate, while uttering coarse language is a thrill for a teenager!

The secret to remembering something important is therefore to put it higher on your list of priorities, regardless of your age.

A self-fulfilling prophecy

Another memory loss factor connected with age is the expectation that, since we are old, we are bound to forget things. We are basically training our mind to become forgetful. If we decide it won’t happen to us, chances are it won’t, or at least not as much. Self-fulfilling prophecies are extremely powerful because the subconscious mind cannot take a joke. When we tell it something, it absolutely believes it and reacts accordingly!

The lesson here is to always expect the best and to be positive in life. The Internet is full of inspiring websites. One of my favorites is Steve Pavlina’s

What’s next?

Hopefully, you now see that age and memory loss are not always linked. But what can we do to make sure our memory stays as healthy as possible?

If you want to improve your memory, check Memory exercises: Keep your memory fit! This article explains how to exercise your memory, and discloses the four important factors required to make your mind last a lifetime!

Tai Chi - A great way to deal with getting old

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