Almost everyone has had a momentary lapse in memory, and although they are quickly forgotten in the younger population, among older adults, they may be seen as an early symptom of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. While it's certainly important to take certain signs seriously, small bouts of forgetfulness may just be a normal part of healthy aging, experts suggest.
Once adults reach their 40s, their memory starts to slowly regress, no matter how active their brains are. However, this decline is often so gradual it doesn't interfere with everyday life, reports The Hartford Courant.
"We are all, including Yale professors, losing brain cells all the time," Dr. Philip Sarrel, a Yale professor for decades, told the newspaper. "We can't do anything about it, it's just happening."
Although these beliefs may offer some solace to seniors the next time they forget where they left their keys for a few minutes or momentarily blank on someone's name, it does raise the question of when the right time is to be concerned. Some scientists say that the greatest indicator of future cognitive health issues may reside outside of the brain. They suggest taking factors such as heart disease, cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes into account.
The link between cardiovascular health and Alzheimer's disease has strengthened in light of recent research. Some of the most compelling evidence comes from a study performed by Larry Sparks, an expert in the Kentucky medical examiner's office. He found that people who have high cholesterol levels in their 40s and 50s are approximately three to five times more likely to develop dementia later in their lives, according to ABC News.