W5 Activity: Age-Related Memory Loss

In this week’s lecture, medicalization is defined as a process whereby normal variations in human health and behavior are reframed as symptoms of an illness hat require biomedical interventions. In American society, medications are viewed as a means to ease symptoms of an illness. For example, Tylenol is often taken to reduce one’s fever. The example used in this week’s lecture was the medicalization of menstruation. As described through the definition of medicalization, menstruation, a normal biological process, is often treated as an illness. This is further encouraged by giving symptoms, diagnosing, and seeking treatment often in the form of medications. What does the tell us about our culture? Understandably, we prefer to be healthy individuals and generally seek out ways to promote our health. However, I think in the context of medicalization, we could make the argument that this culture has begun to obsess over seeking medical treatment to the point where people are offering medical advice and treatment in situations that, in the past, were never considered health concerns. We idealize perfection comfort and go to extremes to achieve that state.

The condition I chose to look into was age-related memory loss. As people age, it is common to become slightly forgetful. By this I mean, taking a few extra seconds to remember where you parked your car or when a loved one’s birthday is. Severe memory loss is completely different from the condition I am talking about. However, mild memory loss is something I believe to be medicalized. People are taking something that is completely normal with age, and viewing it as if it is a severe as dementia.

I found an ad for a supplement called Prevagen. The availability of Prevagen, along with many other brands, to improve short-term memory tells us that the culture values perfect memory and that culture also values consistency throughout the aging process. The aging process has evolved to be a dreaded time period that is looked down on – even though it is a completely natural process. The social roles that Prevagen presents encourages the elderly to be uncomfortable in their forgetfulness. Prevagen is presented as a completely safe option and to have no know side effects, however their website says to consult a doctor before taking Prevagen to discuss the possible interactions with other medications.

Prevagen: https://www.prevagen.com

2 thoughts on “W5 Activity: Age-Related Memory Loss

  1. In today’s culture, there are a couple different things that are beginning to frame the mindset that some memory loss as people age is a real problem that needs to be treated instead of just a side effect of getting older. The first main idea is that people think that everyone needs to be perfect all the time. They believe that anything different from the normal is bad and that mind set is what is turning a lot of natural body processes into “symptoms” of an “illness” that need to be treated and cured as soon as possible. I think the second main thing in our culture that would be used to enforce the idea that some memory loss is abnormal is that in America, it seems that we are beginning to lose the idea that we should respect our elders. I think that a lot of people believe that old people are just senile and that they can’t do anything properly for their selves, and are now using that little bit of memory loss to help enforce that idea. I think that is an important fact because this does seem to be a relatively new idea that this is a problem, and in the past, elderly people were given a lot more respect than they get these days.

  2. I think we see our diagnosis of age related memory loss as more of a cultural influence than anything else. With all the commercials for different medications treating Alzheimer’s and dementia, it can be relatively easy to jump to something serious like that when any type of neurological issue flares up in elderly people. I also feel like there could be an economic motivation as well. Furthermore, history can also play a role. Senior citizens that are noticing issues with their memory may think back to someone that has suffered from one of those serious neurological issues and that may motivate them to seek some sort of treatment. I think that if somebody discovers their memory or focus to be a little hazy, that sudden fear may prompt them to try and seek treatment, no matter the cost. I think this is something that we are seeing for many conditions across the board including autism ADHD. That the fear of deviating from “normal” necessitates a steadfast pharmaceutical response. I believe that these things need to possibly be reevaluated in the diagnosis to see if it is actually an illness present or just something more minor such as actual age related memory loss.

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