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At what age does memory loss start?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Many of us may think that memory loss comes at about the same time as our AARP membership cards, but the decline actually starts much earlier-in your mid 20s. It's not uncommon to see effects in your 30s and many more in your 40s.

What happens is that the speed in which you process information slows down naturally as you age (it's been proven to happen in mice, rats, and primates, as well). Specifically, that comes out in an inability to store information in our short-term memory (say, not remembering a word that you recently heard).

One theory for why this occurs is that a toxin eats away at that sheet of healthy fat that protects neurons; some believe that cholesterol is what creates these toxins. But other factors-including stress, thyroid disorders, diabetes, anxiety, depression, and trauma-could all play a role in starting and accelerating memory loss. Fortunately, you can take steps to slow the process.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.