You may curse your memory when you lose your house keys for the umpteenth time or fail to find your car after just half an hour in the supermarket.
But forgetfulness is not completely to blame for these everyday frustrations.
Instead older people who find themselves losing things more frequently probably did not pay enough attention when they put them down or left them.
Ginny Smith has said older people who lose things more frequently probably do not pay enough attention when putting objects down
Ginny Smith, presenter of an event called Mastering Memory at the Cheltenham Science Festival, said we need to focus less on recalling memories than storing them to begin with.
It means the best advice when dropping your keys somewhere at the end of the day is to make up a little poem about their location.
If that seems like too much hard work, just really concentrate without any distractions on where you put them.
The science radio presenter and Cambridge graduate, speaking after the science festival event, said: ‘Recent studies are now very much suggesting that older people are not more likely to lose their keys and other items not just because they have a bad memory, but also because of a lack of attention.
‘This is usually because people walk into a room on the phone or with a bag of shopping, for example, and just throw them down.
‘It is not that they can then not retrieve the memory, it is that they never stored it in the first place.’
She cites evidence published in the journal Psychology and Aging which found older people have fewer resources for processing attention.
Experts suggest that older people have less efficient processing resources in the frontal lobe of the brain which means it is harder to pay attention and to remember things in context.
Speaking before the science festival workshop, Miss Smith said: ‘We know that older people lose their episodic memory, which means they struggle to look back at recent memories.
‘This can mean losing keys more easily or forgetting where your car is parked after leaving the supermarket.
The best advice when dropping your keys somewhere at the end of the day is to make up a little poem about their location
‘With age, we also become worse at filtering out distractions, which is why older people can struggle to follow a conversation in a noisy room.
‘So any distractions when putting down glasses or keys, or parking a car, can make it harder to remember later.’
The new evidence has been used to provide tips on how to help the brain make up for the changes in later life, which can see people walk into a room and forget why or lose the spectacles on top of their head.
Miss Smith added: ‘A tip is to really concentrate, to take a minute and think, “this is where I am putting down my keys”. This means attention is being paid.
‘We know the brain is very good at remembering rhyme so a poem might help. An example is “I will not forget my keys any more, I left them on the table by the door.”
‘But anything which provides a trigger will help – for example, remembering that you have parked in the blue bay of a car park and your wallet is also blue.’