Are we losing our memory?
“Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez begins his Noble Prize winning literary piece, ‘Living to Tell the Tale’ with this sentence. Most recently we read in newspapers about the lost memory of this great writer who has given a lot of contributions to literature. Like the hero of his story, ‘Memories of melancholy Whores’ has he also searched his spectacles everywhere while it was on his nose? Margaret Thatcher, Atal Bihari Vajpay, George Fernandez, Priyaranjan Das – names of famous personalities is uncountable who has lost the blessing of memory when reached a particular phase of life. A great Malayalam poet once told, “Forgetfulness is a great blessing to human beings as it helps us to keep away from all worries”. But is he right? Is forgetfulness a blessing to us?
Memory related problems are increasing day by day. It’s memory that makes man ‘a man’. Whatever knowledge man has attained till now, it stands on the basement of memory. If damage happens to that basement, it’s affecting a human as a whole and even result in his fall. No building stands without a strong basement! That’s why even the dim shadows of memory loss fears everyone, even me or you!
It’s usual in everyone’s life
Not even a single person exists on this world who has never forgotten anything. We may forget a simple thing misplaced or an urgent call or a birthday of our dearest friend. We can’t memorize all things needed to purchase from a shopping mall or near by market. We may forget where we have placed keys or spectacles. Sometimes, we may come out of kitchen to do something in living room or bed room. But suddenly we forget why we came there and return back. We may remember the task after some time. Such incidents are just common. It can be just seen as re-arranging program of our brain giving priorities to different tasks. It may take certain time. That’s the reason why we remember many things later. But if such conditions exceed the limit affecting our daily activities, it should never be ignored.
Recent reports say
Memory related problems like Alzheimer has already given alarm signals all over the world. 1 in every 20 above 65 and 1 in every 5 above 80 do have dementia problems – says recent surveys. More than 4 crore people all over the world are suffering from such memory related problems. If conditions proceed in the same way, in 2050 this count will reach 10 crore according to survey reports. Problems like Alzheimer’s is now most seen in developed countries. Yet, in those countries where life span is increasing due to the advanced technology, statistics reports are really worrying. According to study reports of Alzheimer’s and Related disorders Society of India conducted on people in Kerala, above 65, 4.8% of senior citizens of Thiruvananthapuram and 3.3% people of Kochi are have memory disorders. Yes, modern life style is not only giving new generation diseases but also deeply influencing our memory as well.
Many reasons for memory loss
Memory related problems may occur due to many reasons. So, all such problems are not dementia diseases. But symptoms may show similarities to dementia diseases. Certain medicines, injuries to brain, anxiety problems, depression, drinking and smoking habits, deficiency of vitamin B12, hypothyroidism, brain tumours, sleeplessness, infection, aging etc may lead to temporary or permanent memory loss. Such problems can be diagnosed easily and treated as well.
If memory loss is really affecting your daily routine, you may be a dementia patient. It may be due to many diseases. Yet Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia are most common.
As we go through aging phase, it’s quite common that brain cells stop cell division and start degradation. But very often, it may lead to conditions like Alzheimer’s. Though it’s most found in people above 60, many cases have been reported for younger people as well. It begins with small memory loss and confusions. Old memories may stay while new memories fade easily. It’s accompanied by tiredness and incapability in doing daily activities. Disease kills the patient slowly and when he losses cells of temporal lobe he losses his memory completely.
Doing same things repeatedly, forgetting simple things even after hearing several times, misplacing things like umbrella in refrigerator or dress inside oven, forgetting numbers and counting, incapability of finding suitable words while speaking, forgetting situations and surroundings, depression, anxiety, sudden mood changes, forgetting even simple habits and daily routines etc can make a patient’s life really miserable, beyond every word and explanations. Most sad part is that he forgets even his dear ones and it’s an incurable disease. Though medicines and caring can reduce its intensity, today or tomorrow this disease kills the person.
Sometimes, blood circulation to brain cells may be interrupted or reduced resulting in the damage of brain cells. If a person reaches this condition he may feel difficult in taking decisions, he may loss memory and loss his efficiency in handling situations as well. Clotting of blood in brain arteries soon after a stroke may lead to this condition. It doesn’t mean all such clots can lead to vascular dementia. It may occur as a result of many diseases as well, such as reduced blood circulation rate or problems in blood vessels. Smoking, high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetics which give chances for heart and brain related problems may become reasons for vascular dementia as well.
Depending on the type of block and the place where it occurred, its symptoms may differ. Vascular dementia that followed a stroke can be identified easily. Confusion, loss of concentration, lack of co-ordination between thoughts and action, communication problems, incapability of mind to take suitable and quick decisions according to situations, memory problems, wandering sleepless at night, depression, anxiety, frequent urination etc are common symptoms of vascular dementia.
Age, genetic traits of stroke and heart diseases, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetics, smoking, loss of balance of heart beats etc increase the chances of vascular dementia. Treatments are now available to reduce the control those chances that may lead to vascular dementia in future. Also, to conserve brain cells from further damages.
Mild Cognitive Impairment (M.C.I)
It’s also known as preliminary dementia because at least 10% of those persons who are having this disease later become vascular dementia patients. It comes in between loss of memory due to aging and the serious vascular dementia. They find difficulty in handling languages, thoughts, decisions and of course, some memory loss. The only difference is that such a condition won’t affect daily routines of that person. Its common symptoms include fading memory, sudden loss of thoughts, forgetting important appointments and events, even confused with paths and places seen every day, sudden decisions without thinking, strange behaviour even among close friends and relatives, depression, anxiety and restlessness. If such conditions are worse, he needs medical help as early as possible.
When memory becomes external
Brain of people is advancing fast forward. Now it’s out of the barrier of human skull and body. In the past 50 years we have seen developments that have not happened for the past 4 or 5 millenniums since the evolution of man. Now our memory is external spread in our computer web pages and mobile memory. A lot of equipments have taken the works and responsibilities of our brain. Mobile phones, computers, e-mail, social networks, CD, pen drive, internet, cloud computing etc have made our memorizing tasks easier. Phone numbers, songs, data, forgotten lessons that we learnt in past, pictures etc, we need not search from our memory. Instead we get everything through a single mouse click.
Our mobile phones store friends’ numbers making that task easier as well. Earlier we people used to memorize at least 7-8 phone numbers of our friends. Now we don’t take effort even to memorize mobile numbers of our family members. To add or subtract two numbers everyone search for computer calculator or mobile key pad. Internet has opened a wonderland to everyone. Since we get everything in a Google search, no one is willing to memorize at least a few common things or piece of information. Many of us are not even ready to think if that data found is relevant or not. Thus, our brain is not working. That much we are depending on internet, computers and mobile phones!
If we want to keep our memory fresh, it is needed to be brushed daily. Otherwise our brain cells will gradually lose their capability of remembering things. Thus our new habits are making our brain useless day by day, deteriorating its efficiency little by little. This condition scientifically termed as ‘Intellectual laziness’ will surely bring us more challenges in future. Recent studies about the impact of social networks on human brains have found that attention span of man has been reduced from 12 minutes to 5 seconds. Reading has increased, but serious reading has decreased. These facts don’t mean that memory power has reduced in the new generation. Much important information that used to be stored inside human brains earlier is now stored outside, in mobiles and web pages. Though such provisions have reduced human tasks and efforts to store data inside brains, it’s not all healthy for a healthy brain – says experts.
For your memory
No treatments are available to restore dead brain cells. It’s not possible to predict brain diseases as well. Only thing we can do is to take precautions so that we won’t go into that dark continent forgetting everything and living as a stranger, even to our own soul! A few tips may help you a lot.
- Do regular exercise. It gives freshness both to mind and body.
- Do some brain work outs as well, giving exercise to brain and brain cells.
- Strictly control cholesterol, diabetics and blood pressure.
- Eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Smoking and drinking – both are injurious to health. Leave both those bad habits forever.
- Board games like Sudoku, chess and caroms can give good activities to brain. Same is the case of games and puzzles related to intelligence.
- Practise music instruments where both hands are used. It helps to improve brain-hands co-ordination.
- You can involve in group discussions which develops your brain a lot. Use logical thinking is such occasions.
- Reduce fat content in food.
- Make reading, writing and music a habit.
- Always keep positive thoughts in mind.
- Sleep 7 hours daily.
- Reduce mental stress and strain.
- Keep friendly relations and try to develop new friendships.
- Involve yourself in social activities rather than staying at home always.
It's true, we are storing more data in our brain than ancient times. Yet, memory of modern world is fading rapid fast. Why? Though we are learning a lot of new things daily, instead of giving work to brain we keep it busy with worries and thoughts and store all needed data in mobiles and web pages. Its result - memory problems. So, it's our laziness to keep data in computer and mobile brains instead of ours. It's our responsibility to keep our brain in good health and condition. Why can't we memorize at least a few things to conserve our brain for our future? Just have a thought
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