Forgetfulness and slower retrieval of information is a common symptom of aging and isn’t necessarily a sign of any underlining or neurological issues but also can be linked to dementia.

Knowing whether something is a common sign of aging or dementia, we must understand how we remember things, the difference between dementia and forgetfulness, and potential reasons you might forget.

Memory Function

When we remember something, it can be broken down into three different levels.

  • Encoding- when we first receive information, our brain creates a mental note, which, in a sense, etches the memory into our mind.
  • Consolidation- after receiving information, noteworthy key points are taken out and stored in our memory.
  • Retrieval- Remembering information received prior.

Age-Related Memory Loss

It is normal to misplace keys, blank on a name, or get turned around when recalling directions. As you get older, your recall time becomes slower. These are typical signs of aging and, on their own, don’t signify any underlining issue.


Dementia is something that interferes with your day to day life. Beyond just misplacing keys, it would be repeating the same story within the same conversation, unable to remember details about yourself such as your name or the activity you are partaking in.

Mild Cognitive Impairment 

According to the Mayo Clinic, mild cognitive impairment is the stage between the expected decline associated with aging and the more severe decline related to dementia. Once mild cognitive impairment has started, it can either get worse and eventually lead to dementia.

Stay the same without getting any worse or better as an ordinary sign of aging, or you could develop mild cognitive impairment than, over time, see symptoms improve. There are many links with health and medications concerning memory, so improving reversible effects may be a way to stop the mental decline. The greater degree of memory loss, the greater your risk for developing dementia is.

What is Reversible 

Some things that put you at risk for dementia and mild cognitive impairment are reversible. These include:

  • Depression

If you know you are depressed, work towards improvement. If working on your own is ineffective or incredibly difficult. Get help of a friend or therapist.

  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency

According to Web MD Vitamin B-12 helps make your DNA and red blood cells. Some symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency include memory loss.

  • Thyroid Issues

According to the Mayo Clinic, Hypothyroidism and underachieve thyroid gland can result in forgetfulness. A tumor or infection in the thyroid can also cause memory problems or dementia-like symptoms.

  • Alcohol Abuse

Drinking too much can affect both short and long-term memory and eventually lead to permanent memory loss. Alcohol can destroy nerve cells in the brain, and people who abuse alcohol often are deficient in vitamin B-1. This is essential to providing energy to the mind (How Alcohol is Linked To Memory Loss By Rachel Nall)

Use it Or Lose it

Studies show that exercising your brain and working on your memory can reduce your risks of getting dementia.

How To Improve Memory

Other than handling your health issues. Below are additional tips for improving your memory and exercising your brain.

Focus Attention

Do one thing at a time and avoid interruptions. Keep your mind active on the task at hand. This can improve your memory.

Reduce Stress

Practice self-care and eat a healthy diet as a way to improve memory and brain function. Stress affects memory formation and retrieval.

Structure Environment

Have a schedule set to help you remember when you are supposed to do certain things. This is freeing your active mind to focus on recalling other details.

After 50, it is normal to be not as sharp as you used to be. Overall, there are things in and out of our control. By practicing and increasing the list of things within our control, we can better prevent developing more serious memory problems in the future.