Presenting the likes of Blue Planet and the Natural World, David Attenborough will delight audiences with a new series, A Perfect Planet. However, the expert may be struggling to remember “proper names” of things.
In a candid interview, Sir Attenborough said he’s “coming to terms” with memory loss that naturally occurs in older age.
Script-writing for his mesmerising show, Planet Earth II, was more difficult for him, as Sir Attenborough finds it hard to recall “proper names” of scientific terms.
Talking about a trip to the Jura Mountains in Switzerland, Sir Attenborough said: “There were these searing yellow fields, and I can’t think of the damn name.”
He continued to tell James Dunn at The Sunday Telegraph: “I wanted to say something about it, but I couldn’t.
“It wasn’t until we got quite close to Geneva that I thought, of course, oil seed rape [i.e. rapeseed oil].”
While “running into problems” with his memory, it’d seem that Attenborough may be facing cognitive impairment.
What’s cognitive impairment?
The Mayo Clinic categories cognitive impairment as problems with memory, language, thinking or judgement.
Consistent or increasing concern over mental performance could be indicative of mild cognitive impairment.
Signs of mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
Signs of MCI, as pointed out by the Mayo Clinic include:
- You forget things more often
- You forget important events such as appointments or social engagements
- You lose your train of thought or the thread of conversations, books or movies
- You feel increasingly overwhelmed by making decisions, planning steps to accomplish a task or understanding instructions
- You start to have trouble finding your way around familiar environments
- You become more impulsive or show increasingly poor judgment
- Your family and friends notice any of these changes
People with mild cognitive impairment may also experience depression, irritability, aggression, anxiety and/or apathy.
“Symptoms of MCI may remain stable for years, progress to Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, or improve over time,” explained the Mayo Clinic.
How does mild cognitive impairment (MCI) differ from dementia?
The Alzheimer’s Society stated MCI is “not a type of dementia” as the symptoms aren’t severe enough to significantly interfere with daily life.
“Most healthy people experience a gradual decline in mental abilities as part of ageing,” said the charity.
However, MCI does increase a person’s risk of developing dementia, which could involve becoming lost in familiar places.
The new BBC One series A Perfect Planet will be aired on Sunday, January 3 at 8pm.