It has happened to all of us — we forget where we put our car keys, we are talking and forget what we are saying mid-sentence or we see someone we know, but can’t for the life of it remember his or her name. We joke and say “oh.. just a sign of old age.” Or is it?
November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and a great time to test our memory skills. Did you know that women are twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s versus men? Doctors assume it is because they live longer, but recent research suggests that biological differences may be the reason that women are at higher risk than men. In fact, one study from Duke University linked hormonal or genetic factors to increased memory loss.
While some instances of early onset Alzheimer’s has occurred in people as young as 50 years of age, the average age for increased memory challenges usually hits around 60. If you have noticed some instances where your memory appears “off,” you are not alone. On October 27th, AARP announced the formation of the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) to bring together doctors, scientists, and leaders in academia and policy experts from all over the world to better inform people how to keep their brains healthy.
Below are ten questions crafted by brain health experts. This test is not meant to be diagnostic. If you have concerns, however, it is always a good idea to talk with your family physician. Each question should be answered with a “Yes” or ” No.”
1) Your kids or grandchildren show up for Sunday dinner—-and you completely forgot they were coming.
2) You run into a friend and start to ask about his daughter, but can’t remember her name–until later.
3) You sometimes look in the mirror and do not recognize yourself.
4) You always miss the turn on the road to your grandkids’ regular soccer field.
5) You find your glasses in the freezer, your watch in the sink or other objects in weird places.
6) Your friend told you some great news about his wife’s new job. You were certain he told you at lunch, but it turns out he told you over the phone.
7) You’ve always been a pro at budgeting expenses, but now your bills/checking account are a complete mess.
8) You made a doctor’s appointment months ago, but completely forgot to go.
9) Your spouse or partner tells you that you repeatedly ask the same questions.
10) Your mother recently passed away. You’re having trouble sorting through all of the papers.
If you answered YES to questions 2,4,6, 8 or 10, you are either showing signs of normal memory loss due to aging or another factor (stress, grief, lack of sleep) may be affecting it.
If you answered YES to questions 1,3,5, 7 or 9, trouble recognizing everyday objects, putting common things in unusual places or repeating the same question within an hour, these may be the warning signs of some serious memory loss. Family members are often the first to notice symptoms, so be open and listen to their concerns. And talk to your doctor about having your memory checked.
If you answered NO to all questions? That is amazing. Whatever you are doing is contributing to great brain health. Keep it up!