Thinking is not the same as Forgetfulness
Confusions that arise in our thought process and memory.
and not remembering events or tasks or even some faces and names are not uncommon
at any age but get more often noticed as we get older. This loss of memory occasionally
leads to confusion in our thinking and some embarrassing moments in life. There
are a number of people with a little forgetfulness. Sometimes people tend to forget
some important events. We have observed in our families that people who are aged
around 60 to 70 are becoming forgetful. It cannot be said that this is due to
age only. In fact we have seen there are several, past the age of 90 being sharp
in their memory. Generally the brain cells get damaged due to age. It becomes
necessary to give exercise to the brain, just as we give exercise to the body.
Reading books, solving crossword puzzles, drawing, painting, and singing are some
ways to do this.
where you parked your car after a long session in the supermarket is an ordinary
type of forgetfulness. But when you have not driven a car for a long time, and
you try to remember where you had parked it, is a more serious matter called dementia.
Some persons with this type of disability may remember events which took place
several years back. But a number of others may lose the ability to remember distant
events also and lose their ability to think coherently. Such type of disability
is referred to as dementia. Dementia is of two types. One called, Alzheimer's
disease affects people in their middle age due to damage to the brain cells. This
could happen due to a genetic disorder and may affect people even in the age group
of 40 - 45 years.
disease and the dementia caused by aging and consequent blood circulation deficiency
which we will see in detail, are not the same though they may appear to be similar.
The age-related amnesia caused by defective blood circulation is called Vascular
Dementia or Multi-infarct dementia. Both of them are very difficult to cure, once
they set in. Looking after such people is also an arduous task for the family
members. The only way to handle this, is for those who are have reached middle
age controlling their diet strictly, doing physical exercise regularly and avoid
becoming victims of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension. As these memory
disorders are incurable, every effort must be made to prevent them from affecting
Causes of memory loss and confusion in Dementia
brain requires lot of oxygen and glucose for proper functioning as also fats,
cholesterol and vitamins. When you work in high altitudes, in places like the
Himalayan district of Ladakh in the state of Jammu & Kashmir in India, which
are over 15000 feet above sea level our brain function suffers due to low atmospheric
pressure and low oxygen content in the air. I have personally experienced such
a situation while working there. Here the oxygen availability in the blood is
low, and it causes confusion and sleepiness. It could be difficult even to read
few pages of our books and understand them. Similarly here, even at sea-level,
brainy jobs or reading a lot makes people get fatigued and become highly sleepy
even in a short time. This is similar to doing hard physical work using muscle
power that needs oxygen and good nutrition.
brain needs good circulation of blood carrying glucose and oxygen for thinking.
So even the so-called sedentary activities or desk jobs which needs lots of brain
work requires lots of energy producing glucose and oxygen for brain work; very
much like the physical labor in the factories and fields leading to muscle work.
We should not deceive ourselves by thinking that we will not get into these types
of situations. We often talk about physical exercises like daily walking as we
get older; but we must remember similar exercise for the brain also in addition
to nutrition and oxygen. Elderly persons may try to give good exercise to the
brain by reading a lot and solve cross-word puzzles. Such measures may reduce
the ordinary type of forgetfulness and keep our memory and intelligent very sharp
but will not prevent confusion and Dementia.
this is quite a different story where there is damage to the tissues of the brain.
Just as already explained in heart attack due to blood vessel problems on the
heart, proper physical exercise and appropriate diets are needed to control our
way of life to prevent dementia by improving the circulation of blood to the brain.
Just as clotting of blood vessels in the heart lead to heart attack, circulation
problems in the two side parts of the brain lead to stroke. The development of
clots in the small blood vessels of the frontal part of the brain leads to brain
damage and dementia. The blood vessels in the brain may get fouled up due to many
reasons. One of them is natural aging, which cannot be prevented. Others are caused
by life-style diseases like diabetes, hypertension; excess fat and cholesterol
in the blood are also reasons apart from the genetic disorders. It is therefore
essential that right from the beginning afflictions like diabetes and hypertension
and excess cholesterol are controlled properly by changes in the way we live;
that is essential lifestyle modifications as they are called.