Getting Older: Signs of Normal Aging on Memory Changes
Each day millions of adults look themselves in the mirror and ask the question: Is my memory slipping? That usually is followed by a second question: What can I do to stay as mentally sharp as possible?
National Institute on Aging1
Questions and concerns about this crucial health issue are expected to increase as the population ages. Already queries about brain health and memory are among the most frequently discussed topics that pharmacists hold with their older clients, according to pharmacy surveys.
Fortunately, a vast body of research is available to make sense of how aging affects memory over time. Brain Health & Aging is a tool for pharmacists to engage with the issues of aging and brain health.
Forgetfulness can be a normal part of the aging process, notes the National Institute on Aging (NIA). As we age, some people may notice it takes longer to learn new things, or they may not remember information as well as they once did. Others may be more prone to losing things like their car keys, according to many research studies.
Pharmacists can help clients address their questions and concerns by pointing out normal signs of how aging affects memory. According to the NIA, these include:
- Making a bad decision once in a while;
- Missing a monthly payment;
- Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later;
- Sometimes forgetting which word to use; and
- Losing things from time to time.
Pharmacists may then recommend various strategies that their clients can take to stay as sharp as possible.
These include engaging in aerobic exercise at least twice a week and eating a healthy diet high in antioxidants and olive oil (Mediterranean diet). Other sound advice includes getting enough sleep, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, reducing stress, maintaining an active lifestyle with friends and family, and taking appropriate vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements.
Such consultations at the pharmacy counter are likely to increase as the population continues to get older.
The U.S. adult population increased faster than the youth population (under 18 years) during the past decade, according to 2020 census data. Aging baby boomers — those ages 57 to 75 in 2021 — are partly driving this demographic trend, the Census Bureau says. Today, more than 46 million adults over the age of 65 live in the U.S. By 2030, that number is projected to increase by almost 18 million, with 1 in 5 Americans being over 65 years. And by 2050, that number is expected to grow to more than 88 million individuals, according to the Census Bureau.
Because of their accessibility, pharmacists are ideally situated to discuss healthy brain aging with older clients. Some studies find pharmacists interact with individuals up to 10 times more frequently than their primary care providers do.
Pharmacists will continue to play a crucial role in advising clients on how they can best maintain both a healthy body and mind as they move through life’s seasons.