Is Memory Loss A Cause For Concern
Your loved one has been forgetting things lately where he or she placed the car keys, an appointment, or even a friends name. Are these memory lapses a sign of normal aging or could they be symptoms of Alzheimers disease?
Some 4.5 million Americans suffer from the disease, and symptoms typically begin to appear after age 60. Alzheimers affects parts of the brain that control memory and language however, occasional forgetfulness doesnt always mean someone has Alzheimers. If it happens regularly, however, it could be cause for concern.
What Else Might Sci Be Indicating
While SCI might be the precursor of more significant memory loss later, it also has been connected to other conditions that may make cognitive functioning more difficult but are not actual impairments in cognition. These conditions include depression and anxiety, as well as other health problems and chronic diseases.
Symptoms Of Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment is an intermediate stage between normal age-related cognitive changes and the more serious symptoms that indicate dementia.
MCI can involve problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes, but the line between MCI and normal memory problems is not always a clear one. The difference is often one of degrees. For example, its normal as you age to have some problems remembering the names of people. However, its not normal to forget the names of your close family and friends and then still be unable to recall them after a period of time.
If you have mild cognitive impairment, you and your family or close friends will likely be aware of the decline in your memory or mental function. But, unlike people with full-blown dementia, you are still able to function in your daily life without relying on others.
While many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia, that doesnt mean its inevitable. Some people with MCI plateau at a relatively mild stage of decline while others even return to normal. The course is difficult to predict, but in general, the greater the degree of memory impairment, the greater your risk of developing dementia some time in the future.
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You Are Stressed Or Anxious
Hello! That would be the woman doing 700 things at the same time, or someone who has a lot of long-term external pressures, such as financial trouble or a loved one whos not well. When you have too many balls in the air or are burning the candle at both ends, cortisol levels run high, says Dr. Petersen. This stress hormone that keeps you revved and ready also affects the hippocampus and other parts of the brain that are involved in memory. Similarly, anxietypersistent worry about something that may or may not happen in the futurefeels like stress to your body, and so has the same effect on your brain. When your anxiety level is high, you cant focus on anything and your attention is going to be impairedits going to feel like you have a memory disorder because you cant concentrate on anything, says Dr. Faubion.
Maybe Your Medications Are Fogging Your Mind
Certain medications are known to affect memory. And in the nothing-is-simple department, some of these meds are ones youd take to help with anxiety, depression, disrupted sleep, or other problems that may keep you up at nightconditions that if left untreated can contribute to memory issues. Benzodiazepines are known to affect memory, as are a class of drugs called anticholinergics, which show up in treatments for stress urinary incontinence, over-the-counter sleep aids, and allergy treatments like Benadryl. Tricyclic antidepressants and certain opioids also deal your memory a blow.
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Reduce Risks To Cognitive Health
Genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors are all thought to influence cognitive health. Some of these factors may contribute to a decline in thinking skills and the ability to perform everyday tasks such as driving, paying bills, taking medicine, and cooking.
Genetic factors are passed down from a parent to child and cannot be controlled. But many environmental and lifestyle factors can be changed or managed to reduce your risk. These factors include:
- Some physical and mental health problems, such as high blood pressure or depression
- Brain injuries, such as those due to falls or accidents
- Some medicines, or improper use of medicines
- Lack of physical activity
- Social isolation and loneliness
Perhaps You Have A Thyroid Issue
Hypothyroidism not only causes forgetfulness and brain fog, but research has shown that the condition can result in shrinkage of the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved with both long and short term memory. And hyperthyroidism can interfere with cognitive function, and a review of the literature has found that studies with a larger sample size have shown statistically significant evidence of hyperthyroidism increasing the risk of dementia, in older patients. Thyroid hormones are so important for the energy metabolism of individual cells, including those in the brain, says Dr Petersen. similarly in the brain.
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Do You Get Lost In Familiar Places
Losing the way while driving, walking or taking public transportation to a new place is normal. So is getting so absorbed in your journey that you have to reorient yourself to figure out exactly where you are.
Whats not: Driving or walking for a long time without realizing youre lost or completely forgetting where you are, and not asking for help in these situation could be a sign of dementia, Yasar says. You may also forget how you got to a new location, become easily disoriented in familiar places, or lose the ability to read a map or follow landmarks and traffic signs.
When To Be Concerned About Forgetfulness
You were rushing to leave the house this morning and forgot again where you last left your car keys. Then tonight, you spent at least five minutes looking for your reading glasses, only to realize they were hanging on the chain around your neck the whole time. Youve been wondering if its time to worry. Just how do you tell the difference between the normal memory problems and something worse, like dementia or Alzheimers disease?
Its an important question to ask.
Worldwide there are 47.5 million people with dementia, which describes a group of symptoms that affect cognitive tasks like memory and reasoning.
Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia in people over the age of 65 years old, said Dr. Glen Finney, director for Geisinger’s Aging Brain and Behavioral Neurology. Currently there are more than 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimers, and the biggest risk of all for Alzheimers disease is your age.
Memory issues that are normal
We have all had moments when it was hard to recall some detail like someones name when you wanted it, only to have it come to you later, said Dr. Finney. However, given enough time you should be able to remember and do mentally all the things you used to be able to do even as you get older. Knowing when you or someone you know should seek help can help prevent needless anxiety and needless tragedy.
If what you experience falls into any of these categories, its likely nothing to worry about:
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You Might Have A B12 Or Folate Deficiency
One of the known treatable causes of dementia is a vitamin B12 deficiency, says Dr. Faubion, found in foods like salmon, liver and milk. The vitamin supports nerve health, so we may check for vitamin B12 deficiency after the age 50 to make sure people are not deficient, she adds. That said, taking B12 pills does not help to improve memory unless youre deficient, says Dr. Petersen, which means taking extra B12 or folate isnt going to make you sharper.
What We Need To Know About Age Related Memory Loss
Memory changes cause concern to many patients as they grow older. Gary Small provides reassurance and gives a strategy for assessing age related memory loss and protecting brain health
As doctors and scientists have focused more attention on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, patients are expressing greater concern about their common, age related memory changes. When results of new research on early detection and prevention reach a wider audience, our patients often come to the office with questions about what they can do to preserve their memory abilities as they age. Many of today’s doctors trained during a time when minimal information was provided on these topics during their medical training. This paper will provide a practical strategy for assessing age related memory loss and will discuss interventions that may or may not protect brain health.
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Is There Anything You Can Do To Have A Better Memory
A strong memory relies heavily on the health of your brain. No matter what age you are, maintaining your memory or having a better memory is possible. Follow the tips below to improve your chances of having a better memory.
1. Get enough sleep when youre sleep deprived, your brain doesnt work at its highest potential. Additionally, sleep is needed for memory strengthening.
2. Get outside and get active regular physical activity increases the amount of oxygen delivered to your brain and can reduce the risk of diseases that can cause memory loss such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. According to the Alzheimers Research and Prevention Foundation, regular physical activity decreases your risk of developing Alzheimers disease by 50%.
3. Maintain your social relationships in a recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that individuals with the most socially active lifestyles had a better memory than their less socially active counterparts.
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.
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When Memory Issues Are Cause For Concern
A concern that is commonly voiced by adult children is that their aging parent is beginning to get forgetful. Maybe they are losing their keys more frequently. Perhaps they uncharacteristically failed to pay some bills on time. Such changes can seem especially pronounced for those who only see their parents occasionally .
As we age, it is normal to become a bit more forgetful than we were in our youthafter all, our brains age just like other parts of the body. This age-related memory loss is attributable to three main factors as we age:
To Help You Make Safe Decisions
People with dementia who have not received a formal diagnosis are twice as likely to do things that may not be safe for them, such as driving, using the stove, managing their finances, handling their medications or providing care for another person. This was reported in a study done in 2016 by gerontologists at Johns Hopkins University. Family members are often the first to notice that their loved one may no longer be safe, and they have a duty to act.
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Early Signs Of Dementia
Memory loss can sometimes be an early sign of dementia. This is especially true if you:
- struggle to remember recent events, although you can easily recall things from longer ago.
- find it hard to follow conversations or programmes on TV.
- forget the names of close friends or everyday objects.
- struggle to recall things you have heard, seen or read recently.
- regularly lose the thread of what you are saying.
- find yourself putting objects in unusual places such as your keys in the fridge.
- feel confused, even in a familiar place, or get lost on familiar journeys.
- find that people start to notice or comment on your memory loss.
You Could Be Drinking Or Partying Too Much
Abusing alcohol or any substance that can slow your central nervous system may affect memory as well, says Dr. Petersen. I dont want to overstate this, but clearly if someone is aging and vulnerable, two or three cocktails a night probably will catch up with you, he says. Scientists have known for years that there is evidence of brain shrinkage in people with alcohol use disorder.
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Manage High Blood Pressure
Preventing or controlling high blood pressure, not only helps your heart, but may help your brain too. Decades of observational studies have shown that having high blood pressure in midlife the 40s to early 60s increases the risk of cognitive decline later in life. In addition, the SPRINT-MIND study, a nationwide clinical trial, showed that intensive lowering of blood pressure lowers the risk for mild cognitive impairment, which is a risk factor for dementia.
High blood pressure often does not cause signs of illness that you can see or feel. Routine visits to your doctor will help pick up changes in your blood pressure, even though you might feel fine. To control or lower high blood pressure, your doctor may suggest exercise, changes in your diet, and if needed medications. These steps can help protect your brain and your heart.
Other Causes For Forgetfulness
- Fatigue and lack of adequate sleep. Doctors know that rapid eye movement deep sleep plays a key role in memory.
- Nutritional deficiencies. Vitamin B12, from foods like dairy products, fish and meat, is essential for normal nerve function.
- High stress. If you have too much on your plate, you can become overwhelmed, which will make it difficult to remember all the tasks before you.
- A medical issue. Silent strokes that go undetected can change brain function and deplete memory. Researchers have found that people with forgetfulness may be at a higher risk for stroke.
- Medication. Some drugs list memory loss as a side effect. Metformin, a type 2 diabetes drug, is linked to memory loss, as are some cholesterol drugs.
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To Remove The Mystery And To Be Pragmatic
A formal diagnosis puts the mystery to rest. The patient, their spouse and children, co-workers and friends can all understand what is happening and know what to expect. Others will understand that changes in the patients personality are not wilful but simply the result of a disease process. The focus can then shift to care and priorities, which is much more productive. Support groups can help everyone who is connected to the patient.
If You Are Noticing Problems In Yourself Or A Loved One Here’s Where To Turn For Help And Support
You’re talking with a friend about a movie you saw recently, but can’t remember the actor’s name. Last week you found yourself upstairs, but couldn’t remember what you came up to look for. Your keys are always missing. You worry: are these normal memory lapses or early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia?
“Because there has been so much attention paid lately to the aging baby boomer population, I think Alzheimer’s disease is getting a lot of attention, which is leading a lot of people to believe they may have the condition,” says Dr. Suzanne Salamon, associate chief of the gerontology division at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
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Is Your Memory Normal
Before you diagnose yourself with Alzheimer’s disease, take heart: Experts say some memory lapses are normal.
They say that memory loss is the second thing to happen as you get older. So what’s the first? Umm, I forgot! And actually, by the time you reach the end of this story, you may remember only a fraction of it. Not to worry, you’re not alone.
Experts say that mild memory loss is perfectly normal — especially as we age. That’s right, if you sometimes forget simple things, you’re not necessarily developing Alzheimer’s disease. There is a gang of people walking around just like you who occasionally misplace their keys, have that deer-in-headlights look as they search for their cars in parking lots, and can’t recall the name of one new person they met at their last office party — yes, the one from last night. And there’s a reason for those character-themed floors coupled with the happy-go-lucky music in Disney amusement park parking garages.
“If we have forgotten an appointment, we begin thinking, ‘Uh oh, is this the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease?’ and we become much more conscious, and it gets kind of a disproportionate amount of attention when it really may be something quite benign,” Stuart Zola, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Emory School of Medicine and director of Yerkes National Primate Facility in Atlanta tells WebMD.