Why am I forgetting things?

All of us are forgetful from time to time and increasingly so as we age, but memory lapses are not always just old age catching up with us.

Healthy people can experience memory loss or memory distortion at any age, and we have previously looked at when memory loss might be a warning sign for dementia.

Here are some generally normal memory problems that you may experience.

Absentmindedness
This type of forgetting occurs when you don’t pay close enough attention. You forget where you left your keys because you didn’t focus on where you put them in the first place. You might have been thinking of something else, so your brain didn’t encode the information securely. Absentmindedness also involves forgetting to do something at a prescribed time, such as taking your medicine.

Transience
This is the tendency to forget facts or events over time. Memory has a use-it-or-lose-it quality: memories that are called up and used frequently are least likely to be forgotten. This is a beneficial service provided by your brain that allows to clean out unused information to make way for more useful ones.

Blocking
We have all experienced blocking at one time or another. This is when something is on the tip of your tongue but you can’t access the information. Often, the blocking is caused by a very similar memory to the one you are looking for and that particular memory is so strong and intrusive that you can’t think of the one you want. Scientists believe that memory blocks become more common with age and that they account for the trouble some older people have remembering names.

Misattribution
Misattribution occurs when you remember something accurately in part, but misattribute some detail, such as the time, place, or person involved. Misattribution becomes more common with age. As you age, you absorb fewer details when acquiring information because your ability to concentrate diminishes and you start processing information more slowly. Your memories also age along with you, and old memories are especially prone to misattribution.

Is your memory loss worrying you? What is the funniest thing that you have forgotten?

Read more at Harvard Health.

Written by Ben

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