Research shows we are not all destined to slip into dementia as we age. In fact, a study I read* looked at a random sample of the population in the U.S. aged 71 or older and found only 14 % of that group developed dementia. That means 86% were “normal” – not demented. Ta Dah! – drum roll please.
But staying “brain healthy” takes work, time, and attention:
- Quiet, restful sleep each night is when our brains replay and sort the past day’s collected events. The useful stuff is sent on to the cortex for long term storage and the trivial stuff is dumped.
- So forgetting some things is actually a good thing. It’s healthier to not remember everything.
Some unfortunate people can’t forget. That condition is called “superior autobiographical memory.” These people don’t use memory tricks or have photographic memories. They are not savants. They simply can recall minutia that ordinary brains have long ago purged. This can be a difficult state of affairs if, for instance, you can recall what the weather was like 13 years ago on June 3rd. Who cares?
It’s good when our brains let go of things that aren’t important. If, long ago, we learned things necessary for survival, we don’t want to crowd out those key pieces now and cram in trivia with no value. So don’t beat yourself up if your forget why you came into a certain room, or where you left your car keys, or where you parked in that maze called the shopping mall parking lot.
Nuff said for today’s post – more next time.
*“Aging in Arizona, Part 1: UA Researchers Tackle Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia”