by Linda Teri, Ph.D.
Q. "Is it possible for someone in their 40s to get AD? I'm really worried about my memory and I'm only 42."
A. There have been documented cases of people having AD in their 40s. However, memory is a very sensitive phenomenon. It can be influenced by many things - Are you under a great deal of stress? Are you anxious? Depressed? Memory is vulnerable to these emotional states. If you are experiencing memory problems and have these emotional stressors, decreasing the stress will most likely improve your memory.
Memory is also tied to our sensory abilities. As we age, and our vision and hearing changes, sometimes we don't hear or see as well as we should. We can't remember what we didn't hear or see to begin with. Be sure to get a hearing and vision test to insure that you are hearing and seeing properly. Corrective lenses or hearing aides can do wonders for what you think is your failing memory.
If you are not experiencing these problems, and your memory is still of concern, you may want to consider a memory evaluation. Such an evaluation, conducted by a neuropsychologist (a specialist in memory disorders), or a neurologist (a specialist in brain disease), will help you identify if your memory is failing and may suggest ways to improve it. Begin this evaluation by seeing your family physican. He or she can talk with you about your experiences and help you get a handle on the best way to proceed.
Memory is tricky. The more we worry about it; the more anxious we get; and the worse our memory becomes. It is okay to use memory devices - lists, routines, etc. If you forget something, try to take it in stride and focus on what you do remember. And, if you continue to be concerned, get help. Good luck!