I was so engrossed in commenting on other posts, I forgot the focus for this post. My forgetting is rather apt, because the post is about memory loss. The article that took my interest on this subject was still open on my desk top and so reminded me what I intended to do. Should I be personally concerned at needing a memory aid?

Many people go to collect something from, say, a drawer,and forget what it was they wanted. It is quite a common event. There are sillier forgetfulnesses and distractions, such as putting something in the oven instead of the fridge. Thank heavens we can laugh at ourselves! Lots of people have done it. Is it really funny?

There could be a range of reasons for increased confusions and exacerbated memory loss, especially in older people. Infection is certainly one possibility, there are others. For now, there does not seem to be any magic answer for the prevention of chronic cognitive decline.

Research is indicating that body infections may speed up memory decline, especially in Alzheimers disease. Researchers at Southampton University say that infections increase an inflammatory protein in the blood, known as a tumour necrosis factor (TNF). The obvious defensive responses to this, are good observation, devising fast action to deal with suspected infections, and providing skilled care, especially in residential, nursing homes and hospitals. Preventing infections from spreading is nigh impossible.

This is the point where it is necessary to think outside the box (lateral thinking). It is where the researchers and pharmacological experts join forces. One thought is to try to protect the human system by blocking TNF to prevent more inflammation of the brain. Research into cognitive decline is a growth area. TNF is just one aspect of it and like many others, needs further research.



  1. Interesting to probe the deeper understanding of what is happening during ‘memory decline’ – no doubt science will come up with ever-newer discoveries, innovations and theses! The natural process of wear and tear will continue for some time…well after science has ceased to make headway……Let’s not forget the joys of forgetfulness! 😉

  2. I would like to know if any longitudinal studies have been started, or been undertaken, (there has been time with what has been known for some decades) starting with subjects measured with no cognitive impairment.

    Priorities is the next consideration here, the cost benefit analysis may have been done, though with what measures we wouldn’t know.

    As for prevention of dementias, that is not something I have heard that anyone is yet anywhere near covering. I guess the researchers have to look at different biochemistries, the gene pool, etc. and track back. Then of course, there is that needed commodity, money.

  3. We have just had gran in law down. She is 93 and her memory is terrible now. In my experience of looking after people illness and infection are top of the list for poor memeory but with the elderly it can be a s simple as moving the person from their usual environment. Even after three weeks she wasn’t as good as she is in her own home.

  4. Good Luck to ALL research! This is the scientific approach, which is imperative….However, are humans not more than mere ‘physical automaton’? What about that often maligned aspect of the ‘spiritual’ – not necessarily religious.:)

  5. i am afraid to say infection is the cause, on most conditions, t-cells and immune system is still in its infancy, we have the cancer sell in us and thats where the answer is? humanity is still searching!

  6. Spiritual, humane attributes, call it what you will, is something outwith this research.

    If you are asking about the development of automata with spontaneous sympathetic ‘brain’ systems, that is another subject.

  7. You make highly valid observations. Familiar surroundings and other visual and conversational connections are so important.

    One physical area which can be overlooked is vitamin and mineral deficiency. As we age, we do not absorb vitamins and minerals as efficiently as our younger systems did. That’s one reason why pharmacists these days ask more mature people if they are taking a daily booster, like a combi tablet of the kind bought over the counter. I have seen what a B6 deficiency can do, and with correction, the result within a week, was akin to miraculous.

    Thyroid function is another area that needs checking, and regularly.

    Statins, where appropriate, work well with heart and arterial conditions.

    There are bound to be more causal factors, but you have hit the nail on the head with those you are aware of.

  8. Hello,

    Thanks for calling in. Certainly, infection is the causal factor we seem to know most about, when it comes to increased confusion states in those people who already are affected with cognitive impairment.

    Not all dementias are Alzheimer’s Disease, though they seem to get lumped together under one adjective. There are a number of other factors that add to confusion or present symptoms of confusion, which I have mentioned in my reply to another commentator.

    Vitamin and mineral deficiency can play havoc with mental cognitions.
    Thyroid function should be checked.
    Then of course, cardiac deficiencies leading to oxygen starvation.

    There are probably many other physical causal factors apart from these. I wonder, in view of your comment, whether the conditions such as those mentioned above, would also trigger TNF?

  9. The worst, I found, is spending time with someone who has some awareness that they are continually losing capacity, or they have a sudden flash of cognition that all is not as it was. And much, much more.

    Fortunately, I have not spent time with anyone close, who has forgotten who I am. I have worked with people have had that experience.

  10. Of course its not without credibility, but spiritual/psychological – neurological impact, is a whole other area of research. It is unlikely that the parameters of the current biochemical researches can encompass anything other than clearly quantitative approaches.

  11. Oh! I am not suggesting the present research to which you refer should incorporate these aspects in their ‘brief’ – I am respectfully pointing out that we need to bear in mind that the course for research is much wider….:)

  12. Ah. I see.

    I believe due cognizance has been given to the social and emotional aspects of good mental health care. Activities in and out of care homes are now on the check-lists for grading for residential care. I hope in the not too distant future, it will be incorporated into rehabilitation units in hospitals, some of which, are of dubious quality.

    One area where body chemistry and mood have been found to be linked is with Endorphins. People are therefore, encouraged to generate them by adding activities to their usual lifestyles.

  13. I notice you stick firmly to the ‘physical/scientific’ model which is the norm for this country…The psycho/spiritual/non-physical approach is not readily embraced….Connections there may be…between body chemistry and moods….but not all of human experience can categorically be expressed in physical terms…

  14. There are lots of practical tricks to help overcome these physical deficits. I’m not 60 yet, but make increasing use of lists, calendars and notes to myself to make sure I don’t forget important things. I still have those “why was I going upstairs?” moment though. I have to laugh, or else I’d cry at the loss of my younger powers of memory.

  15. I don’t know that the physical/scientific model is the norm for this country. It is certainly one that is quantifiable, it is one therefore, that I am aware of.

    The qualitative work that is undertaken – and it does go on – is generally published in source material that is not easily accessible to you and me. Anything that is not transferable into evidence-based work these days, tends not to be heard too much about unless it has been seen to have a remarkable wide-ranging effect.

    Could you be more specific? Are you talking about faith/religious beliefs and if so, what examples can you enlighten me with?

    I agree that human experiences cannot be categorically expressed only in one form. Our very natures militate against that.


  16. Some of the more detailed memories I have from my schooldays involve the elaborate nonsenses which ensued when I had forgotten to do my homework or take it to school with me on the right day. It seems that forgetfulness was just as much an issue in those days, something I always try to remember when wandering vacantly about wondering what it was I was doing…

  17. I specifically avoided ‘faith/religious beliefs’; this ‘can’ be one vehicle for exploring and enhancing ‘psychological’ well being…which is what needs attention from early on in our lives…..How can our psychological well-being be enhanced?

  18. The entire field deserves closer examination and thoughtful research. I am merely suggesting there is more to what make for the ‘effects and discomforts of growing old’….more than the research to which your post refers…:)

  19. ” TNF is just one aspect of it and like many others, needs further research”.

    As you see, I did say in my final paragraph, and I do acknowledge, the area in which I commented was just one aspect. There are others that need further consideration and research.

  20. Mental Callisthenics are good for all of us.

    I did read recently that mature people who use technology, such as computers, (there was no mention of how) are more likely to maintain the agility of their mental faculties. Its a lovely bit of anecdote, in the form I read it, that I can happily go along with. 🙂

  21. I can believe that; it’s strange how I have become aware of my mental agility having sharpened since I’ve been doing sudoku…..two years now. Only picked up IT…i.e. the PC in the last three years. A it of a ‘Luddite’ before then..:))

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