The mind functions largely like a huge and complex computer. The brain stores the information it considers important in “files” and when we remember something, it just “open” the stored files. Memory does not always work perfectly, as people get older, it can take longer to retrieve those files.
It is normal to forget things from time to time. Older people who forget things more often than other people their age may suffer from mild cognitive impairment but forgetting how to use the phone or how to get home may be signs of a more serious problem. These include Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, stroke, depression, head injury, thyroid problems, or reactions to certain drugs.
Mild cognitive impairment memory problems may include:
- Frequently losing items
- Forgetting to go to programs and appointments
- Having more trouble finding the right words at a given time than other people do.
Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms caused by disorders affecting the brain, not a specific disease. People with dementia may no longer be able to think well enough to carry out normal activities, such as dressing or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. There may be personality changes, they may be agitated or see things that are not there.
Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, however, memory loss itself does not mean you have dementia; people with dementia have serious problems with two or more brain functions, such as memory and language. Although dementia is common in older people, it is not a normal part of aging.
Primary Prevention measures include:
- Encouraging healthy lifestyles (physical exercise, reading, memory training exercises,…).
- Modifying harmful lifestyles (sedentary lifestyle, smoking, social isolation, stress,…).
- Health Promotion and, as an instrument, Health Education are key elements in this Primary Prevention.
As Secondary Prevention measures, to be able to make an early diagnosis and delay the evolution of the disease, are those that tend to:
- Detect and control risk factors (arterial hypertension, diabetes, hypothyroidism, depression,…).
- Early detection of cognitive impairment by means of tests.
- Early application of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments.
And as Tertiary Prevention measures, so that the capabilities are used to the maximum and prevent dependence as far as possible, are those that tend to:
- Encourage the maintenance of activities of daily living and functional autonomy.
- Develop cognitive stimulation activities.
Genetics and memory
Regarding the genetics of memory, short-term memory is maintained by temporal patterns of brain activity, but long-term memory creates lasting connections between neurons that can potentially last a lifetime.
The genes or regions studied that appear to be linked to memory, both of which were studied in our DNA test, are as follows:
- COMT gene: specifically the rs4680 polymorphism polymorphism (c.472G>A or Val158Met), this genetic variation or SNP is linked to higher or lower enzymatic activity of the COMT protein. The COMT gene is related to memory protection in the elderly.
- CLSTN2 gene: specifically the rs6439886 (c.109+28170A>G) polymorphism has been associated with memory capacity.
GENE OR REGION STUDIED