Wednesday, June 25, 2008


It is said that greatest asset any human can have is his brains and the memory that’s stored in there. Take away the memory and you are noting. The human brain is such a complex organ, that no one even understands 80% of it’s working. Even the most advance storage systems in this world cannot even come close to what our brain is capable of. And even so we use only 20% of the actual capacity of this marvelous organ.

And sadly enough, since it’s a living organ, time catches up with it and as we age its functions also slows down. How often have we put our car keys or glass in our pockets and went hunting down the whole house for it, and getting scolding from our wife’s from being so forgetful. And how many times did you go back to the car to check if you locked it or not. Welcome to the golden age club! Below is an article I cut and paste from channelnewsasia. Read on my friends:

For most people, an occasional memory lapse is part and parcel of normal ageing.

But if you find yourself forgetting things you typically remember, such as a loved one’s birthday or your weekly golf game, or if your family notices that you have been more forgetful than usual, there may be a cause for concern.

Such signs may indicate that you have mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition which is often known as the "in-between stage of normal ageing and dementia", said Dr Adeline Chuo, head and consultant of the geriatric medicine division at Changi General Hospital.

According to Dr Charles Siow, a consultant neurologist, headache and pain specialist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, MCI occurs when a person has cognitive problems with memory or other mental functions severe enough to be noticeable to other people but does not meet the clinical criteria for dementia.

What’s worrying is that people with MCI are generally at a higher risk of developing dementia, a brain disease which affects about 22,000 people over the age of 65 here. People with dementia lose their ability to remember, orientate, as well as other cognitive and emotional functions gradually.

At around the age of 60, a person has a 1- to 2-per-cent chance of developing dementia each year but the risk for MCI patients can be 10 to 15 times higher, said Dr Chuo.

Unfortunately, MCI is hard to diagnose. The elusive condition doesn’t even show up in tests which are used to diagnose dementia.

More often than not, MCI is diagnosed based on a doctor’s clinical judgment.

Unlike in dementia, where the symptoms are more severe, people with MCI can still “function independently and carry out routine activities”, said Dr Siow, who sees about 20 to 30 cases of MCI each year.

It also doesn’t help that many people think the forgetfulness is due to normal ageing, said Dr Chuo.

“It’s normal to be a little forgetful as we age because we start to lose neurons after the age of 30, which can affect our ability to remember things. But if it starts to impair our day-to-day life, that becomes worrying,” she added.

Interestingly, although the decline in their cognitive abilities is subtle, Dr Chuo said that most of her MCI patients are usually the first ones to notice that they have a memory problem.

Other signs of MCI include friends and relatives noticing that you’re becoming more forgetful than usual. Or you feel you’re “worse off when you compare your cognitive abilities to someone of the same age and education level”, added Dr Chuo.

Although MCI cannot be prevented or cured, Dr Siow said that gingko biloba and Vitamin E may help or slow down its progression.

Still, it’s important to raise awareness about MCI because of its high correlation with dementia. Both doctors and patients would be alerted to the early signs of dementia, so treatment can be sought before the condition deteriorates.

Symptoms to look out for

Not all memory problems mean you have MCI. But you may want to see a doctor if you experience the following:

• You notice a decline in your cognitive abilities.

• Your relatives or close friends tell you that you have been more forgetful than usual lately.

• Compared to a person of the same age and education level, you’re a little worse off.

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