Healthy Aging: Memory and aging

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Memory loss is a normal part of aging, however, at a certain point, memory loss can be an indicator of dementia and/or developing dementia.  People should consider two factors if they begin experiencing memory loss:

  1. How frequent are memory errors occurring?
  2. Are memory errors beginning to affect my daily life?

For instance, it is common to misplace your car keys every now then. However, if you begin misplacing them every day and placing them in unlikely locations, such as the refrigerator, this is when it becomes abnormal.

If you are experiencing frequent memory loss, it is important to discuss it with your doctor, as you may be a candidate for a neuropsychological assessment. During a neuropsychological assessment aimed at distinguishing between normal aging and developing dementia, a neuropsychologist first has an in-depth interview patient, covering everything from their medical history to their education level. The assessment then involves a battery of tests measuring factors such as attention, concentration, reasoning, memory and language. Results of the tests and interview are then compared with a scale of normal memory loss for the patient’s age group and education level.

Memory loss and dementia can be caused by a number of factors, including stress, depression and neurological (brain) conditions. Neuropsychologists work with doctors, most commonly neurologists, to make a conclusive diagnosis of dementia and/or rule out the disease, and get patients on the right path toward treatment. Cone Health Neurorehabilitation Center has a dedicated neuropsychologist who specializes in assessments for mild cognitive impairment and dementia.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Michael Zelson is a neuropsychologist at Cone Health Neurorehabilitation Center. Dr. Zelson received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1982, and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology from the University of Delaware in 1985. He earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Delaware in 1989. Dr. Zelson is an affiliate of the National Academy of Neuropsychology.