If scientists really knew the answer to that
question, we might have already developed a "cure"
for memory loss. Wouldn't that be nice! As with
most questions about how the brain works,
scientists don't really know the answer.
Most people will become more forgetful as they
get older. The increase in forgetfulness with age
is often called "senility", and you may
have already heard people complain or even joke
that they are getting "senile".
Basically, there are two forms of memory:
short term memory and long term memory.
Short term memory helps you remember where you put
your shoes, your address and phone number, or the
homework you have to do before you go to bed. This
is the type of memory that suffers most when we
get older. Unfortunately, this is also the type of
memory that we depend on most in our daily lives.
The other form of memory is long term memory. This
helps you remember the name of every pet you've
ever owned, how to tie your shoes, or that 2 times
2 equals 4.
Eventually, some of your short term memories
will become long term memories, although
scientists don't really know how or why.
Repetition is one way to ensure that your
short term memories becomes long term memories,
which is why you have to "memorize" your times
tables by saying them over and over and over, or
practice your scales on the piano every night.
Often, older people will have poor short term
memories but very good long term memories. For
example, my Mom often forgets where she put her
scissors or what to buy at the grocery store but
can tell stories about what it was like to live in
London during World War II. Though my grandmother
would sometimes forget my name, she could remember
surviving the big earthquake in San Francisco in
According to some studies, about half of the
memory loss that occurs by the age of 60 is due to
genes (passed on to you by your mom and dad) and
the other half is up to the person. This means
that there are some things you can do to keep your
memory from getting worse as you get older. One
way is to use your brain a lot. It seems silly,
but I've noticed that my Dad is becoming more
forgetful now that he's retired. So staying
active, meeting new people, reading and learning
about new things every day will actually help you
Unfortunately, some people suffer from
diseases that make them lose their memories faster
than other people. Such people often need special
care, and they rarely get better. One of these
diseases is called Alzheimer's disease.
Doctors and researchers hope that by studying
Alzheimer's, we may learn clues about how to
prevent memory loss.
Click Here to return to the search form.