How young people have senior moments too: Adults in their 20s regularly forget why they entered a room or where they put their keys… and more than half often have difficulty finding the right word
- Research from Edinburgh University has found that young people regularly struggle to remember things
- A new study of 124 healthy adults aged 18 to 59 found they often forgot where they put their keys or phones and struggled to find the right word
- Such absentmindedness is normal and are not a cause for concern, experts say
- Memory loss can be among the first signs of dementia but in this case the person is usually unaware of having forgotten something
If you think memory problems are the preserve of the elderly, forget it. Young people frequently struggle to remember things too.
A British study shows that men and women in their 20s regularly forget everything from why they entered a room to where they put their keys.
And more than half have difficulty finding the right word at least once a week.
The Edinburgh University researchers said we shouldn’t worry so much about memory lapses in old age because we also have them when we are young – and they aren’t always the first sign of dementia.
Neuropsychiatrist Laura McWhirter quizzed 124 healthy adults aged 18 to 59 on how good they thought their memory was. Just 13 per cent rated it as ‘excellent’. And 56 per cent were scared of developing dementia, the journal CNS Spectrums reports.
Half of the volunteers, who had an average age of 27, said they forget why they have entered a room at least once a week and 40 per cent misplace their phone at least weekly.
A British study shows that men and women in their 20s regularly forget everything from why they entered a room to where they put their keys. And more than half have difficulty finding the right word at least once a week [Stock photo]
Some 48 per cent forget to buy items on their shopping list at least once a week, 21 per cent can’t find their keys and 18 per cent have a mental blank over their PIN number.
An absent-minded 33 per cent can’t remember where they’ve left their car or bike once a month or more.
Memory lapses were as common in those in their 20s as they were in the fiftysomethings.
Dr McWhirter said: ‘A lot of people will be surprised at how frequent the memory lapses were. I think people think that if you starting to forget things – something like misplacing your keys – that it is something to worry about but it is normal.
‘It is just a function of how the brain works and how attention works. You can only remember something if you properly attend to it. If you are doing lots of different things and not concentrating when you get in and just put your keys down somewhere, you may well forget where you have put them.
‘You can get up and have your breakfast and drive to work and later not remember driving to work and that’s not abnormal. It’s just that your attention wasn’t really focused on the driving because you were on autopilot.
‘Don’t worry about these things because they are normal.’
James Goodwin, a Loughborough University physiologist and a world-leading expert in brain health and ageing, said the advice rang true.
Professor Goodwin, a director of campaign group the Brian Health Network, added: ‘We know that older people worry far more about their memory and are more embarrassed about lapses than younger people.
Memory lapses were as common in those in their 20s as they were in the fiftysomethings, a new study found. Forgetting the location of keys, wallets and mobile phones is one of the most common memory lapses in young and older people [Stock photo]
‘So, when we forget things as we get older, it’s easy to think that we are losing it. But although it is harder to form new memories as we get older, forgetting things doesn’t necessarily mean we are on the road to dementia.’
Dr McWhirter added although someone in the early stages of dementia will have memory lapses, they tend to be unaware of them. In contrast, a healthy person will be able to remember that they forgot their keys last week.
Other signs of concern include becoming lost or disorientated when out and about, asking the same thing over and over again and having difficulty with cooking and multi-tasking.
– Where keys and mobile phones were left
– The reason for going into a room
– The right word while speaking or the thread of a conversation
– Where a car or bike is parked
– PIN numbers
– Which items to buy while out shopping
– Important dates like birthdays
– Whether a door has been locked or an appliance turned off