I've written about this before, I think. I can't remember things very well lately.

I've written about this before, I think. I can't remember things very well lately.

I mentally review the reasons this might be happening. Sleep deprivation? Could be. After all, several times each week, I am the night-nanny for our 3-month-old grandson, who needs feeding and snuggling every two hours.

Poor nutrition? I know that what we eat often determines how well we think. OHSU research studies on the aging brain suggest foods containing vitamins B, C, D and E are best. That would be foods with color and crunch, such as sweet peppers, broccoli and almonds or walnuts.

I seem of late to have a penchant for a whole lot of chocolate ice cream. Or could it be the side effects of medications or interactions between medications (prescription and not)?

I don't believe that explains my recent memory challenges, but it might be something to think about if you are having issues with where you put your reading glasses.

The good news is this. The reasons for memory difficulties are, in many instances, easy to assess and resolve. Sometimes simply understanding the reason you may be so forgetful addresses the problem. Those reasons (in addition to the ones identified above) include poor hydration, infections and thyroid imbalance. Consider that depression (mild, moderate or severe) and untended grief can affect your overall memory function.

That said, I think many of us may look at memory difficulties as a potentially bigger issue. The American Psychological Association states, "Losing keys, misplacing a wallet or forgetting's names are common experiences, but for people nearing or over age 65, such memory lapses can be frightening."

One of the first things many ponder — "Could this be early signs of Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia?"

The experts at APA might say, "Hold it! Stop right there. Normal memory problems go with aging. If you forgot where you put your keys, you probably just need to get better organized."

If you lost your wallet again, you are probably rushing around too much and don't have an "everything in its place" strategy.

When memory difficulties are such that professional attention is warranted, situations like the following may be occurring. You not only lost your keys, you have forgotten what your keys are used for, and if presented with a locked door or a car ignition, you would not know how to proceed. If that's happening, you will want a health provider's assessment of cognitive function (again, your own or that of a loved one).

If everyday tasks such as handling money become too difficult, it's time to have the situation evaluated. If learning new tasks or problem-solving an alternative route to the grocery store is impossible, see a health professional. Not recalling the name of a loved one close to you is a particularly huge flashing yellow light.

As we age, the most important thing to remember about remembering is that we don't always. Sometimes the explanations may be as simple as getting a good night's sleep followed by a nutritious breakfast. Never forget that.

Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University associate professor emeritus. Reach her at 541-261-2037 or Sharon@hmj.com