When your forgetfulness could indicate something more worrying...

We’ve all been there before: you spend 10 minutes looking for your glasses only to realise they’re on your head; you go out to the car but leave your keys inside the house… the list goes on. We all fall victim to bouts of forgetfulness, whether it’s failing to remember little things on a day to day basis, or forgetting a family member’s birthday.

While we tend to worry about forgetfulness – thinking it could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia – there is nothing to suggest everyday ‘fuzziness’ is anything to seriously worry about. The more serious signs you could be dealing with a cognitive disease are when your forgetfulness begins to impact on your quality of life.

Doctors say common forgetfulness like leaving your watch on the bedside table in the morning or leaving something in the oven for too long are all normal behaviour. They attribute these kinds of instances to things like stress, lack of sleep, and an information overload. We are living in the technology age and all the extra information we take in every day has a direct effect on our memories, which are not used to such a heavy onslaught of content.

If you do find your forgetfulness frustrating, there are a number of things you can do to help improve your memory. Doctors suggest you have a general check up to test for a number of things that can contribute to a fuzzy mind:

  • Iron levels
  • Fasting insulin, glucose tolerance test, & 2–hour postprandial glucose and insulin
  • Homocysteine and CRP
  • Thyroid function
  • Adrenal function
  • Hormone panel
  • ALCAT or other allergy testing
  • Urinalysis
  • Other alternative tests we use include the organic acid profiles by Metametrix
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Knowing how to determine the difference between general forgetfulness and something more serious like Alzheimer’s can be a little tricker. Generally, when your forgetfulness starts to impact on your life, you might need to take stock and head to your doctor for a thorough check up. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the signs to look out for are:

  • Challengers planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images or distances
  • Problems speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace your steps
  • Poor judgement in decision making

Some of the best ways to improve your everyday memory, and help ward of diseases like Alzheimer’s, are to commit to a few simple tasks that can make a huge difference. First up, eat often and eat well. Filling your body with nutritious foods like leafy greens and Omega 3-rich salmon are a great way to kickstart your brain and improve function. Supplements like fish oil and vitamin D, C, and B are also great for the body and the brain.

Ensuring you get plenty of sleep is also important for brain function, with doctors saying it’s “fundamental to reversing the downward spiral of fatigue and stress” – both of which affect your memory.

Daily exercise is also paramount and not just for your body! It’s important to strengthen your mind through things like crosswords and sudoku, or logic games and puzzles. Stretching the mind like this increases your ability to retain information and stay sharper for longer. Taking the time to workout your body is important, too. Getting up off the couch and into the outdoors gives your brain a chance to refresh itself and clear out the junk.

What it all comes down to, is being able to understand the difference between common forgetfulness and something that might be more serious. Don’t panic if you can’t remember the little things, and make sure you take the time to go see your doctor if you start to experience some of the more serious signs mentioned above.

Do you worry about your memory? Do you take any steps to improve your memory?