Memory Loss And Aging
Weve all misplaced keys, blanked on someones name, or forgotten a phone number. When youre young, you dont tend to pay much attention to these lapses, but as you grow older, you may worry about what they mean. Perhaps you start to talk about a movie you saw recently when you realize you cant remember the title. Youre giving directions to your house when you suddenly blank on a familiar street name. Or you find yourself standing in the middle of the kitchen wondering what you went in there for. Memory lapses can be frustrating, but most of the time they arent cause for concern. Age-related memory changes are not the same thing as dementia.
As you grow older, you experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions youve always taken for granted. It takes longer to learn and recall information. Youre not as quick as you used to be. In fact, you may mistake this slowing of your mental processes for true memory loss. But in most cases, if you give yourself time, the information will come to mind. So, while its true that certain brain changes are inevitable when it comes to aging, major memory problems are not one of them. Thats why its important to know the difference between normal age-related forgetfulness and the symptoms that may indicate a developing cognitive problem.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy body weight is essential for well-being and is one of the best ways to keep your body and mind in top condition.
Several studies have established obesity as a risk factor for cognitive decline.
Interestingly, being obese can actually cause changes to memory-associated genes in the brain, negatively affecting memory .
Obesity can also lead to insulin resistance and inflammation, both of which can negatively impact the brain .
A study of 50 people between the ages of 18 and 35 found that a higher body mass index was associated with significantly worse performance on memory tests .
Obesity is also associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimers disease, a progressive disease that destroys memory and cognitive function (
Summary Obesity is a risk factor for cognitive decline. Maintaining a body mass index within the normal range may help you avoid a host of issues associated with obesity, including a poorer memory.
How Is The Cause Of Memory Loss Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask you or someone close to you about your memory loss. Your healthcare provider will ask you questions to test your thinking, language, and memory functions. If your healthcare provider thinks you may have a severe memory problem, you may need other tests. Tell the provider if memory problems are new for you or started suddenly. Your provider will ask about any recent head injury, and about all the medicines you take. Include vitamins, supplements, over-the-counter medicines, and prescription medicines.
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Explain Why You’re Concerned Without Being Judgmental
You’re sitting with your loved one, ready to have the conversation, but how do you begin? Begin by explaining why you wanted to talk: You care, and you’re concerned.
To make it clear why you’re worried, give specific examples of incidents or behaviors you’ve noticed. But make sure to use nonjudgmental language. “You don’t want your loved one to feel it’s their fault and you’re blaming them,” Bednarczyk says.
For example, instead of saying, “You haven’t been paying your bills,” which sounds accusatory, try a softer but still specific approach: “You seem to be finding it difficult to pay the bills.”
Memory Loss At Work: What Should Hr Do
Weve all experienced fleeting memory loss forgetting someones name, forgetting where we put the car keys, forgetting to bring a crucial document to a meeting.
While many people retain an agile mind throughout their lives, cognitive function begins to decline as we age and we become more susceptible to disorders affecting the brain. With an ageing population and more people working into their 70s, cases of recurring memory loss and dementia in the workplace are sure to increase.
Dementia is most commonly associated with very old people. In Australia, one in 10 people over 65 have it, and there are more than 1800 new diagnoses each week. This number is projected to grow to 7400 by 2050, according to Alzheimers Australia.
But its not just senior citizens who are at risk. At least 25,000 Australians under the age of 65 are currently diagnosed with dementia or a related memory disorder, and this number is projected to rise to 36,800 by 2050, says Carol Bennett, CEO of Alzheimers Australia.
Weve had someone as young as 20 with dementia in our network, so its not solely a condition affecting older people, she says.
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms that includes impaired thinking and memory. While Alzheimers is a main contributor, other diseases can also cause dementia, such as Huntingtons disease, Parkinsons disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
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What Do I Need To Know About Memory Loss
Some memory loss is common with aging. You may have sharp long-term memories from many years ago but have trouble remembering new information. Normal memory loss does not get worse and does not affect daily activities. Memory loss that gets worse over time or affects daily activities can be a sign of a serious medical problem, such as Alzheimer disease. Talk with your healthcare provider if you or someone close to you notices that your memory is worsening.
Drugs That Cause Short
Sometimes its the drug treatment for a health condition, not the condition itself, that causes memory loss.
There are many prescription drugs that list short-term memory loss as a side effect.
A group of drugs called anticholinergics can trigger short-term memory loss by blocking the action of acetylcholine, the main neurotransmitter associated with learning and memory.
Acetylcholine is also essential for turning short-term memories into long-term ones.
The level of acetylcholine naturally declines with age which puts older adults at greater risk for memory loss induced by their medications.
Two of the worst kinds of medications for short-term memory loss are anti-anxiety drugs and narcotic painkillers .
And its not only prescription drugs that can affect your memory.
Some over-the-counter remedies such as the antihistamine Benadryl are anticholinergic and have been linked to dementia.
And as you might expect, recreational substances ranging from alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana to heroin and cocaine take a toll on short-term memory.
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Memory Loss Related To Emotional Problems
Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, can make a person more forgetful and can be mistaken for dementia. For instance, someone who has recently retired or who is coping with the death of a spouse, relative, or friend may feel sad, lonely, worried, or bored. Trying to deal with these life changes leaves some people feeling confused or forgetful.
The confusion and forgetfulness caused by emotions usually are temporary and go away when the feelings fade. Emotional problems can be eased by supportive friends and family, but if these feelings last for more than 2 weeks, it is important to get help from a doctor or counselor. Treatment may include counseling, medication, or both. Being active and learning new skills can also help a person feel better and improve his or her memory.
How Sugar Accelerates Short
Your brain needs a steady supply of glucose, its main fuel.
The key word here is steady.
But the simple carbs found in the types of sugar and flour commonly used in processed foods can push blood glucose levels into an unhealthy range.
This adversely affects short-term memory.
Sugar also increases free radical damage and promotes inflammation of the brain.
It can even change your brainwave patterns, making it hard to think clearly.
Consuming too many simple carbohydrates can even cause insulin resistance in the brain.
This type of insulin resistance has been linked to Alzheimers disease.
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How To Prevent Memory Loss In Old Age: 8 Lifestyle Tips To Improve Memory
Cant find your keys? Not sure where you put your glasses? Most people have been there occasional memory lapses are normal. But memory loss that affects your senior loved ones quality of life and their ability to live independently may be a sign of a serious medical condition.
Age, genetics, and other factors can increase someones risk for dementia and Alzheimers disease. But research shows that certain steps can help lower the risk of memory loss associated with these cognitive conditions. Read on to learn how to avoid memory loss and improve memory through simple lifestyle changes.
Forgetting Recent Conversations Or Events
People with dementia may find it hard to remember recent conversations and events, even in the early stages. Keep in mind that the person isnt ‘being difficult’.
Due to the damage that is causing the persons dementia, their brain may not have stored the information. This means that they cannot bring back the memory of the event or discussion because they may not have that memory.
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Try A Fish Oil Supplement
Fish oil is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid .
These fats are important for overall health and have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, relieve stress and anxiety, and slow mental decline .
Many studies have shown that consuming fish and fish oil supplements may improve memory, especially in older people.
One study of 36 older adults with mild cognitive impairment found that short-term and working memory scores improved significantly after they took concentrated fish oil supplements for 12 months .
Another recent review of 28 studies showed that when adults with mild symptoms of memory loss took supplements rich in DHA and EPA, like fish oil, they experienced improved episodic memory .
Both DHA and EPA are vital to the health and functioning of the brain and also help reduce inflammation in the body, which has been linked to cognitive decline (
Summary Fish and fish oil supplements are rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Consuming them may help improve short-term, working and episodic memory, especially in older people.
What To Expect At Your Office Visit
The provider will perform a physical exam and ask about the person’s medical history and symptoms. This will usually include asking questions of family members and friends. For this reason, they should come to the appointment.
Medical history questions may include:
- Type of memory loss, such as short-term or long-term
- Time pattern, such as how long the memory loss has lasted or whether it comes and goes
- Things that triggered memory loss, such as head injury or surgery
Tests that may be done include:
- Blood tests for specific diseases that are suspected
Treatment depends on the cause of memory loss. Your provider can tell you more.
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Go With Ginkgo Biloba
You may have heard ginkgo biloba touted as a brain herb, but American research casts doubt on its usefulness. Maki says ginkgo biloba is widely used in Germany to combat dementia and memory loss, but studies done in the United States have not shown that it performs any better than a placebo. Ginkgo biloba is generally considered safe but can have some serious negative interactions with medications, so talk with your doctor before taking the supplement during menopause or at any other time.
Plan What You’re Going To Say
If you witness memory or behavior changes, don’t speak up in the moment. However well-meaning, blurting out, “You’ve been really forgetful lately,” or “You’re not acting like yourself whats wrong?” may cause your loved one to get defensive, upset or withdrawn.
Take the time to come up with a plan for how to have a respectful, productive conversation. Start by considering these questions:
- Has your loved one noticed the symptoms?
- Do they think their memory/behavioral issues are just a natural part of aging?
- What could be stopping them from seeing a doctor? Fear? A logistical or financial issue? Do they think there won’t be any point to seeking help?
- What approach has worked in the past to help persuade your loved one to do something they were unsure about doing?
- Who could be the best person or people to broach the subject? Is it better to have a one-on-one talk or involve others?
- Does your loved one prefer to have a lot of information to understand all possibilities, or take things one step at a time?
- Would they feel better if someone offered to go with the doctor with them? If so, who?
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What Causes Memory Loss
Many things can cause memory loss. Age is a key factor as the normal aging process causes a slight decline in brain function. As someone ages, connections between brain cells that store and transfer information are weakened, affecting recall.
Cognitive disorders such as Alzheimers disease and other types of dementia are progressive conditions that cause severe memory loss over time. Many factors can increase your loved ones risk of dementia, including age, family history, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking.
About 10% of people who have a stroke and nearly one-third of those who have a second stroke develop dementia. Heart disease and fat buildup in the arteries also contribute to cognitive decline and dementia.
Other causes of temporary memory loss in elderly adults may include adverse reactions to medications, infections, vitamin B-12 deficiency, depression, and excessive alcohol consumption.
When To See A Doctor For Memory Loss
Its time to consult a doctor when memory lapses become frequent enough or sufficiently noticeable to concern you or a family member. If you get to that point, make an appointment as soon as possible to talk with your primary physician and have a thorough physical examination. Even if youre not displaying all the necessary symptoms to indicate dementia, now may be a good time to take steps to prevent a small problem becoming a larger one.
Your doctor can assess your personal risk factors, evaluate your symptoms, eliminate reversible causes of memory loss, and help you obtain appropriate care. Early diagnosis can treat reversible causes of memory loss, lessen decline in vascular dementia, or improve the quality of life in Alzheimers or other types of dementia.
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Can Memory Be Preserved During The Aging Process
According to the American Academy of Neurologys practice guideline for patients with mild cognitive impairment, the best thing you can do to maintain your brain health is to exercise twice a week.
Although there is no clear-cut proven link that doing any of the following will help slow memory and thinking skill decline, these are general recommendations for maintaining good health.
Communication Barriers: What Can You Doby M Chris Wolf Phd
Addressing communication barriers is extremely important. When people experience memory loss, it can not only be difficult for them to express their ideas, needs, and feelings to others, but also challenging for family members, caregivers and professionals to communicate with the person. Thecommunication barriers associated with memory loss not onlyimpede social interaction, but also can also pose safety and health risks for the person with memory loss.
Some examples of safety risks include:
- Forgetting contact information for family members in case of emergency
- Forgetting directions provided by others of what to do in case of a fire or injury
- Not remembering the meaning of the uniforms of law enforcement or other public safety officials.
Some examples of the health risks include:
- Not remembering instructions provided by their physician
- Forgetting to tell their physician about medication side effects or changes in their condition
- Increased stress and emotionality caused by the frustration of not remembering information and coping with the resultingcommunication barriers.
There are different ways for both people with memory loss and their caregivers to minimize these health and safety risks.
Communication Styles to Reduce Memory Loss Communication Barriers
The manner in which information is expressed to a person with memory loss can facilitate communication and increase the likelihood that it will be remembered. Some of these strategiesinclude:
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Are You Experiencing Memory Loss With Age
Youre not alone! If you or your loved ones memory loss has become an issue in your day to day living, it may be time to look into a care facility that helps memory loss patients in particular. There are many benefits of living in an environment designed to help you better engage in daily activities and continue to have a robust social life. Memory loss can be very isolating if left untreated, so talk to your doctor about the best treatment for your age related memory loss.
If you would like more information about our facilities at Landmark Memory Care, or want to check availability, please contact us today.
For a helpful list of things to look for in your memory care facility, see our previous blog post.
Lifestyle Causes Of Short
The causes of short-term memory loss are not always medical.
Often an unhealthy lifestyle is to blame.
This means that by simply making healthier choices, you can stop and even reverse memory loss and other signs of mental decline.
For example, even something as simple as being chronically dehydrated can impact your short-term memory.
Fortunately, due to a property called neuroplasticity, your brain has the capability to grow, change, and improve throughout your lifetime.
So no matter how bad your memory is now, you can halt its decline and even improve your memory provided you start doing the right things.
While all lifestyle factors affect your general brain function to some degree, three of the worst offenders that are specifically harmful to short-term memory are lack of sleep, stress, and sugar.
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