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Forgetfulness: It's Not Always What You Think

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Advice for Today

Scientists are working to develop new drugs that someday may slow, reverse, or prevent the damage caused by Alzheimer's disease and multi infarct dementia. In the meantime, people who have no dementia symptoms can try to keep their memory sharp.

Some suggestions include developing interests or hobbies and staying involved in activities that stimulate both the mind and body. Giving careful attention to physical fitness and exercise also may go a long way toward keeping a healthy state of mind. Limiting the use of alcoholic beverages is important, because heavy drinking over time can cause permanent brain damage.

Many people find it useful to plan tasks; make "things to do" lists; and use notes, calendars, and other memory aids. They also may remember things better by mentally connecting them to other meaningful things, such as a familiar name, song, or lines from a poem.

Stress, anxiety, or depression can make a person more forgetful. Forgetfulness caused by these emotions usually is temporary and goes away when the feelings fade. However, if these feelings last for a long period of time, getting help from a professional is important. Treatment may include counseling or medication, or a combination of both.

Some physical and mental changes occur with age in healthy people. However, much pain and suffering can be avoided if older people, their families, and their doctors recognize dementia as a disease, not part of normal aging.

For More Information

The Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center is a service of the National Institute on Aging, part of the Federal Government's National Institutes of Health. The Center provides information to health professionals, patients and their families, and the public. Contact:
ADEAR Center
P.O. Box 8250
Silver Spring, MD 20907 8250
1-800-438-4380
www.alzheimers.org

The Alzheimer's Association is a nonprofit organization supporting AD research and offering information and support services to people with AD and their families. Contact:
Alzheimer's Association
225 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1700
Chicago, IL 60601-7633
1-800-272-3900
www.alz.org

Information about community resources is available from State and Area Agencies on Aging. Contact:
Eldercare Locator
1-800-677-1116
www.eldercare.gov

For more information on health and aging, contact:
National Institute on Aging Information Center
P.O. Box 8057
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057
1-800-222-2225 (toll-free)
1-800-222-4225 (TTY toll-free)
www.nia.nih.gov

To order publications (in English or Spanish) online, visit: www.niapublications.org.

Visit NIHSeniorHealth.gov (www.NIHseniorhealth.gov ), a senior-friendly website from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine. This simple-to-use website features popular health topics for older adults. It has large type and a 'talking' function that reads the text out loud.

National Institute on Aging
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Public Health Service
National Institutes of Health
August 2005
Web page last updated: December 29, 2005

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WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health

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