It is not uncommon as we age to begin to have slight memory lapses. All of a sudden, you realize that you have been misplacing your keys more often than you did before. Or maybe you keep forgetting the name of the new guy at your office. Many adults worry that these memory lapses are a warning sign of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. While this is true in some cases, it has also been discovered that humans simply begin to suffer memory loss with age naturally. It does not mean you will develop dementia – it just means that you need to get a new place for your keys.
A recent study of over 1,200 adults between the ages of 30 and 95 looked at memory skills of participants as well as the amount of plaque in the brain that has been linked to Alzheimer’s. Before the study, none of the volunteers had symptoms of dementia. The research team was surprised to find that there tends to be overall gradual decline of both brain memory and volume between the age of 30 and about 65. Despite this memory decrease, brain scans did not show any plaque buildup. It was not until age 70 that some people began showing plaque in their scans.
Researchers also found that men tended to have worse memory skills overall than women of the same age. This finding was consistent throughout the participants, regardless of age. Lead authors of the study believe that this result may be due to the fact that men generally have a higher rate of cardiovascular risk factors, which has been linked to the development of memory issues. Additionally, the hormone estrogen in women tends to have a protective effect in the brain. Scientists noted that despite this information, dementia is no more common in men than women.
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