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Article by Barbara Sadick, AARP

“Suspect your memory isn’t what it used to be? You could be right. But the reasons for your cognitive slump might not be the ones you worry about.

“Slow cognitive decline is expected as we get older,” says Joel Salinas, a neurologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Neurology Henry and Allison McCance Center for Brain Health. What’s not considered a normal or expected part of aging, he says, is dementia — a disease signaled by “more rapid decline in cognitive abilities.”

Many older adults worry about big causes, such as Alzheimer’s, without realizing that, “in fact, many cognitive issues signal more general health problems such as thyroid issues, dehydration or lifestyle issues that can be reversed,” Salinas notes.

Low thyroid functioning, he says, can be experienced as ongoing fatigue and slowed thinking. Too much alcohol can impair memory, and dehydration — often simply not drinking enough water throughout the day — causes too little blood flow to the brain.”

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