When To See Your Doctor About Your Memory Loss Fears
If youre concerned about memory loss, see your doctor. He or she can conduct tests to judge the degree of memory impairment and diagnose the cause.
He or she will have many questions for you, and it is important to have a family member or friend along to answer some questions based on his or her observations. Questions such as:
- How long have you had memory problems?
- What medications do you take, including prescriptions, over the counter, and vitamins?
- Have you recently been ill lately?
- What medicine did you take?
- What is your daily routine? How has your routine changed lately?
- What tasks are difficult to perform?
- What have you done for your memory problems? Have these helped?
- Have you ever fallen and injured your head?
- If you drink alcohol, how much do you drink daily?
- Have you felt sad, depressed or anxious lately?
- Have you experienced a major loss, change or stressful event in your life?
The questions are designed to help your doctor test your memory and other thinking skills. He or she may also order blood tests and brain-imaging tests, like Chucks MRI, that can help identify reversible causes of memory problems.
Your general practitioner may refer you to a specialist in diagnosing dementia or memory disorders, such as a neurologist, psychiatrist, psychologist or geriatrician. This specialist will try to identify any reversible cause of memory impairment so that you get appropriate treatment.
Much Of The Promising Research Is In Neurology
Since this disease is a brain disorder, it stands to reason that some of the most promising research findings come from the field of neurology. For example, in a recent study, neuroscientists found that a certain type of light therapy reversed the advance of Alzheimers in mice.
Only a neurologist is likely to know about research projects like this and how they might impact your loved ones health. If you have questions about current research, a neurologist may be the best person to answer them.
Staying Informed with Five Star Senior Living
Here at Five Star Senior Living, were constantly working to stay current with scientific developments in Alzheimers diagnosis and treatment. Our memory care program is designed around sound principles of science, much of which involves the work of neurologists.
One example is our Bridge to Rediscovery Program, a type of Montessori-based dementia program offered exclusively at Five Star Senior Living communities. This program is designed to provide a safe, nurturing environment that offers seniors living with Alzheimers disease a place to flourish.
If youd like to know more about our Bridge to Rediscovery program or to see one of our memory care neighborhoods, find a community near you and schedule a tour.
Drugs That Cause Memory Loss
There are many kinds of prescription drugs and OTC medications that cause memory loss. See if any drugs you take can cause problems and what to do about it.
According to Harvard University, prescription drugs cause over 128,000 deaths per year in the United States.
This does not count deaths in nursing homes which account for another estimated additional 350,000 deaths annually.
More emergency room visits result from prescription medications than from illicit drugs, alcohol, and recreational drug use combined.
Its very clear that medications carry significant risks and one of the most common risks is memory loss.
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When Is Memory Loss A Problem
Do you keep asking the same questions over and over? Are you having difficulty following easy, simple instructions, such as how to put together a recipe? Do you keep becoming more and more mixed up over people and places.
Alzheimers Disease, as we all know, can lead to memory loss, but not all memory loss is linked to Alzheimers and related dementias. And, in some cases, it can be treated once the cause has been found.
Tips For Choosing A Medical Provider
Once youve developed a potential list of AD providers, its time to contact their office and determine if they could be the right doctor for your loved one. Examples of questions to ask on the first phone call can include:
- What insurance types do you accept?
- What types of services are offered for those with AD?
- Are there any special qualifications or behavioral needs your practice works with or doesnt work with ?
- How is the staff trained in AD and dementia? Do any support staff members have special credentials related to AD care?
Another deciding factor could be the level of experience the provider has in treating people with AD. Some seek board certification in gerontology or in their chosen medical field. This means the doctor has undergone continuing education and further testing to prove they have extensive knowledge on a particular subject.
Many medical practices will also offer a free meet and greet appointment during which you meet the medical provider and tour the office to ensure its the best fit for a loved one. You may also wish to ask if the provider can give you references or testimonials from their patients. Speaking to others can help you determine what it would be like to see this doctor on a regular basis.
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Neurologists: Do Seniors With Alzheimer’s Need One
When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia stemming from Alzheimers, understanding your options can be an emotional and difficult process. Though there is no cure, there are treatments available that can help reduce symptoms and help your loved one maintain their quality of life. While most experts agree that anyone with any form of dementia should see a specialist, there are several types to choose from. That can make it difficult to know what course of action to take.
One effective option is to visit neurologists specializing in dementia near you who can offer guidance. They can conduct a thorough neurological exam and recommend subsequent Alzheimers treatment. Combining a neurologists evaluation with the findings of other types of Alzheimers doctors near youpsychiatrists, psychologists and geriatricianscan help make the path to finding the best treatment for your loved one even clearer.
A Note About Unproven Treatments
Some people are tempted by untried or unproven “cures” that claim to make the brain sharper or prevent dementia. Be cautious of pills, supplements, brain training computer games, or other products that promise to improve memory or prevent brain disorders. These might be unsafe, a waste of money, or both. They might even interfere with other medical treatments. Currently there is no drug or treatment that prevents Alzheimer’s or related dementias.
However, there are currently several drugs available by prescription to safely treat the symptoms of early and mid-stage Alzheimer’s. If you have been diagnosed with dementia, your doctor may suggest that you take one of them.
How to protect yourself and others from unproven treatments:
- Beware if the product claim seems too promising and if it conflicts with what youve heard from your health care provider.
- Question any product that claims to be a scientific breakthrough. Companies marketing these products often take advantage of people when they are most vulnerable and looking for a miracle cure.
- Check with your doctor or health care professional before buying any product, including those labeled as dietary supplements, that promises to improve your memory or prevent dementia.
- Report any products or supplements being advertised as a treatment for Alzheimer’s or other diseases on the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations website.
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What To Expect When You See A Gp About Dementia
A GP will ask about your symptoms and other aspects of your health.
They’ll also ask if you’re finding it difficult to manage everyday activities such as:
- washing and dressing
- cooking and shopping
- paying bills
If possible, someone who knows you well should be with you at your GP appointment, so they can describe any changes or problems they’ve noticed. They could also help you remember what was said at the appointment, if this is difficult for you.
Memory problems do not necessarily mean you have dementia. These problems can have other causes, such as:
- an underactive thyroid
- side effects of some medicines
To help rule out other causes of memory problems, the GP will do a physical examination and may organise tests, such as a blood test and urine test.
You’ll also be asked to do a memory or cognitive test to check any problems with your memory or ability to think clearly.
Read more about the tests used to diagnose dementia.
Four Types Of Memory Loss
Memory loss isnt a simple thing, and there are many factors at work when considering the process of memory loss. There are four different types of memory, sensory, short-term, working and long term memory.
Short-Term MemoryShort-term memory loss is one of the first symptoms of Alzheimers disease. You might recall your loved one asking the same question multiple times in the course of a day or a couple of days. This is commonly described as the inability to recall information that was just recently given to you. The amount of time concerning short-term can be from a couple of seconds, up to a few days.
Sensory MemorySensory memory is considered the shortest term memory. It usually is only 3 seconds and it relates to recalling sensory experiences Sensory memory is often not referred to so much in detecting Alzheimers because it is subtle and these memories are too short.
Working MemoryWorking memory is also noticed in the early stages of Alzheimers disease, as it is closely linked to the short-term memory. Working memory is what allows our brains to keep limited amounts of information stored up long enough to use it. It helps us to process our thoughts and to form plans, as well as to develop ideas. As you can see, the short-term memory and the working memory work together.
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Talk To Your Doctor About Dementia Expert Advice
Significant changes in memory are not normal at any age and should be investigated by a doctor as soon as possible.
It’s important not to assume a person has dementia. Many other conditions can cause the symptoms of dementia, so the first step is to talk to your doctor.
A medical diagnosis is important because there could be other reasons for these changes, such as:
- medicines or alcohol
- mild cognitive impairment
Watch the video below and learn how you can start a conversation with someone who may be showing signs of dementia about the need to see a doctor.
Key Differences Between Normal Aging And Dementia
Scientifically, the difference between dementia and normal aging is largely a question of severity, and how much of an effect cognitive decline has on a seniors everyday life. Here are three key behavioral differences:
Ability to complete daily tasks. Seniors aging normally may take longer or have some difficulty completing once-familiar tasks. But in people who have dementia, an everyday task like dressing, making a sandwich, writing a check, or placing a phone call may be very difficult or impossible to complete.
Forming new memories. Older adults with Alzheimers or another form of dementia may have difficulty making new memories, but memories from early in life are often preserved throughout the early stages of the disease. Seniors aging normally can still capture and retain new memories.
Ability to learn new skills. Learning new things is often impossible for people who have dementia, which is why many dementia care settings focus on using activities and therapies to retain existing skills. Seniors aging normally may have a harder time learning new languages, interacting with technology, or undertaking projects than younger adults, but practicing these skills can actually help slow cognitive decline.
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Worried About Your Memory Or Dementia
If you or someone you care about is getting forgetful or confused, you might be worried its dementia. Everyone forgets things from time to time, but the memory loss associated with dementia is different. It becomes worse over time, and can eventually lead to forgetting how to do everyday things like getting dressed or having a shower.
When To See Your Doctor
If you noticed problems with memory, it would be a great idea to visit your physician. He or she will perform specific tests to determine what kind of memory impairment makes you suffer. Besides that, it will be a great idea to take your family member with you. They will answer questions that you have a problem with due to your condition. In addition to an extensive physical exam, your doctor will conduct several tests to judge your mental and cognitive state. He or she can order blood tests and brain-imaging tests that will identify your symptoms and will help to prescribe appropriate memory loss treatment.
It is crucial to get the correct diagnosis
It is tough to come to terms with memory loss, and the prospect of being diagnosed with dementia can be overwhelming. Many people try to hide their condition and make their friends and family adapt to the memory impairment.
Getting a timely diagnosis is essential, even if its tough. Recognizing a reversible reason for memory impairment enables a person to get the necessary treatment. Also, an early diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimers disease, or a related disorder is beneficial because you can:
- Begin treatments to manage symptoms
- Educate yourself and your loved ones about the disease
- Determine future care preferences
- Identify care facilities or at-home care options
- Settle financial or legal matters
Many organizations will help you to deal with dementia symptoms and memory loss. You are not alone.
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Information For Your Doctor
Itâs a good idea to put together the following for your first appointment:
- A list of symptoms — include everything youâre feeling, even if you donât think it could be related to dementia
- Any sources of major stress or recent life changes
- A list of all medications you take, including vitamins and supplements, and the dosage
- A list of any questions you have
Preparing For A Neurologist Appointment
- Write down all the questions you would like to ask, like the ones listed in the section below. List your most important questions first. It may be helpful to carry a small notebook or download a smartphone app that will include all your loved ones pertinent care information in one place.
- Make a list of all medications including prescription, over-the-counter and supplements your loved one takes and their dosages.
- Bring along his or her medical history and other paperwork including diagnostic test and lab results, as well as imaging scans like X-rays and MRIs.
- Bring a list of your loved ones other physicians who should have access to their neurology records.
- Ask the neurologist if there are any forms you can complete prior to your visit so you can focus, as much as possible, on keeping your loved one calm and stress-free for the appointment.
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The Memory Disorders Center
There are a number of clinical programs at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center that are designed to diagnosis and treat memory disorders. This includes programs that focus on Alzheimers disease, Frontotemporal dementia, Huntingtons disease, Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, as well as stroke and related vascular conditions. Each of these programs is led by an outstanding clinician with many years of experience in clinical care. Wherever possible, the care is multidisciplinary, involving clinicians from the Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Geriatric Medicine. This website provides information about how to contact the specific program that is of interest to you. It also provides general information about the primary disorders that cause memory problems, how to prepare for an upcoming appointment and where you can find additional information regarding care and support. There is also information about ongoing research on memory disorders at Johns Hopkins, since it is through research that improvements in diagnosis and treatment come about.
When Should You See Your Doctor For Memory Loss
My husband has memory loss. It is more advanced lately, so we finally went to see a neurologist.
It started out with memory lapses. Sometimes, Chuck asked the same question, like Where is the rake? It would be where it always was, but I would tell him anyway. Then a few minutes later, after getting distracted for a moment, he would ask, Wheres the rake?
These memory lapses came more frequently, and then they got quite unsettling. I tried to joke about it, as I did when I wrote about this a few years ago. At the time, I thought one lapse was just bad driving. Now I know it was problems with paying attention with staying in the moment. You can read about it here.
About three weeks ago, my husband visited a neurologist, as suggested by our doctor. I tagged along because it was important both of us hear what the doctor had to say. This was apparent by the time we got home because all Chuck heard was that he was fine.
His doctor asked him a series of verbal questions, designed to help him determine and diagnose Chucks situation. Afterward, the doctor had good news. He said it is not Alzheimers or dementia, but to rule out anything else like a brain tumor he ordered an MRI .
He also thought that Chuck doesnt get enough quality sleep.
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