Compensating For Memory Loss
The same practices that contribute to healthy aging and physical vitality also contribute to a healthy memory. So, by taking steps early to prevent cognitive decline, youll also be improving all other aspects of your life as well.
Stay social. People who arent socially engaged with family and friends are at higher risk for memory problems than people who have strong social ties. Quality face-to-face social interaction can greatly reduce stress and is powerful medicine for the brain, so schedule time with friends, join a book club, or visit the local senior center. And be sure to put your phone away and focus fully on the people youre with if you want the full brain benefit.
Stop smoking. Smoking heightens the risk of vascular disorders that can cause stroke and constrict arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain. When you quit smoking, the brain quickly benefits from improved circulation.
Manage stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, damages the brain over time and can lead to memory problems. But even before that happens, stress or anxiety can cause memory difficulties in the moment. When youre stressed out or anxious, youre more likely to suffer memory lapses and have trouble learning or concentrating. But simple stress management techniques can minimize these harmful effects.
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How Does Dementia Affect The Brain
Youve probably never given much thought to how your brain controls all your bodily functions, why would you? That is until you find one or two everyday things not going as smoothly as before, or you are having tests to see if you have dementia or another neurological condition. But the parts of day-to-day life that are becoming more of a struggle give an idea of the part or parts of the brain not working as they should, or in the case of dementia, the type you have.
This is because the brain is separated into different regions and each region has a different function. When cells are damaged in a particular part of the brain, the function it performs wont be carried out in the same way as before. There are so many different types of dementia because dementia is an umbrella term for lots of progressive neurodegenerative disorders. These different dementias affect different parts of the brain, in different ways, causing the wide range of symptoms that are associated with the conditions that cause dementia, such as memory loss, communication problems, reduced ability to manage day to day activities, and hallucinations.
How To Prevent Short
Living a healthy lifestyle may keep your brain healthy and help you remember things, says Hafeez.
“Simple things like eating right, sleeping well, and staying socially active will help counter the issue of memory loss,” she says.
Moreover, engaging your brain can help keep you sharp. You don’t have to do crossword puzzles, but challenge your cognition by learning new skills like games, crafts, hobbies, or languages, says Holden.
Note: There are currently no brain training exercises that have been clinically proven to reduce the risk of dementia or boost memory.
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What Is The Treatment For Dementia
Although an individual with dementia should always be under medical care, family members handle much of the day-to-day care. Medical care should focus on optimizing the individual’s health and quality of life while helping family members cope with the many challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia. Medical care depends on the underlying condition, but it most often consists of medications and nondrug treatments such as behavioral therapy.
However, early investigation into the cause of dementia symptoms is urged because, as mentioned previously in the causes of dementia section. There are some conditions that when adequately treated may either limit or reverse dementia.
Concussions And Head Injuries
Concussions and traumatic head injuries can cause short-term memory impairment, but some research has found that they can also increase the likelihood for the development of dementia over the years.
Be sure to take steps like wearing protective headgear and helmets when playing sports. And, if you do sustain a concussion, it’s important to let your head fully heal before returning to regular activities and participating in sports. Discuss any headaches and concentration difficulties after a head injury with your doctor.
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Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Dementia is a collection of symptoms that can occur due to a variety of possible diseases. Dementia symptoms include impairments in thought, communication, and memory.
If you or your loved one is experiencing memory problems, dont immediately conclude that its dementia. A person needs to have at least two types of impairment that significantly interfere with everyday life to receive a dementia diagnosis.
In addition to difficulty remembering, the person may also experience impairments in:
Aging And Your Memory
Evidence has demonstrated that living an active life in which we are engaged in our communities and environments can help our minds stay sharper. Keeping our brains stimulated with mentally challenging activities can have positive effects on our mental acuity.
Age-related memory changes can be frustrating. Taking measures such as creating lists of daily tasks or errands, keeping important items such as keys or wallets in the same place at all times, using alarms or reminder notes for important upcoming events, and keeping a regular schedule can potentially ease some of that frustration.
Q& AMEMORY TEST ADVICE
The experts at Duke Medicine Health News help a reader with a question about a friend whose memory has her concerned.
Q: My good friend seems unable to finish a complete sentence lately, and often cannot find a word she wants to use. Is it possible she has some kind of memory impairment? Are there a memory test she could take to determine whether theres a problem or if its just a temporary lapse?
A: First, be aware that keeping information briefly in your mind normally declines somewhat with age. This is called working memory, or short-term memory . Studies have shown that STM function changes with increasing age . As you age, your brain may need to draw from more brain regions to perform tasks that require STM. Multi-tasking may become increasingly difficult.
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Difficulty Completing Normal Tasks
A subtle shift in the ability to complete normal tasks may indicate that someone has early dementia. This usually starts with difficulty doing more complex tasks like balancing a checkbook or playing games that have a lot of rules.
Along with the struggle to complete familiar tasks, they may struggle to learn how to do new things or follow new routines.
Referral To A Specialist
Referral for the opinion of a specialist is usually needed to confirm the diagnosis of dementia. This is usually to one of the following:
- A specialist memory clinic.
- A psychiatrist specialised in looking after older people.
- A specialist in the care of elderly people.
- A neurologist.
The specialist may be able to determine the likely cause of dementia and decide if any specific treatment may be helpful . To help with this, they may suggest further investigations such as a magnetic resonance imaging scan of the brain.
Other more sophisticated tests may be done if an unusual cause of dementia is suspected.
Usually referral is made to a specialist team as early as possible. This is partly so the person developing dementia and their carers can obtain advice about advance planning. In the earlier stages, people are better able to make decisions about how they wish to be cared for. They are also better able to decide who they want to manage their affairs once they become unable to do so themselves.
Special memory clinics give lots of information on dementia and how to manage it. Sometimes before dementia is established, there is an earlier phase called mild cognitive impairment. People with mild memory symptoms are often referred to the specialist clinics, so that they can have information early. This is in case their symptoms get worse and develop into dementia.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Late Or Severe Dementia
- Worsening of symptoms seen in early and intermediate dementia
- Complete dependence on others for activities of daily living
- May be unable to walk or move from place to place unassisted
- Impairment of other movements such as swallowing: Increases risk of malnutrition, choking, and aspiration
- Complete loss of short- and long-term memory: May be unable to recognize even close relatives and friends
- Complications: Dehydration, malnutrition, problems with bladder control, infections, aspiration, seizures, pressure sores, injuries from accidents or falls
The person may not be aware of these problems, especially the behavior problems. This is especially true in the later stages of dementia.
Depression in elderly people can cause dementia-like symptoms. About 40% of people with dementia are also depressed. Common symptoms of depression include depressed mood, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, withdrawal from others, sleep disturbances, weight gain or loss, suicidal thoughts, feelings of worthlessness, and loss of ability to think clearly or concentrate.
People with irreversible or untreated dementia present a slow, gradual decline in mental functions and movements over several years. Total dependence and death, often from infection, are the last stages.
Causes Of Memory Loss And Early Dementia
Many older people fear that they have Alzheimer’s disease because they can’t find their eyeglasses or remember someone’s name. These very common problems are most often due to slowing of mental processes with age. While it is a nuisance, it does not significantly impair a person’s ability to learn new information, solve problems, or carry out everyday activities, as Alzheimer’s disease does.
Memory loss follows a specific pattern in Alzheimer’s disease. The losses are mainly in short-term memory. This means that the person has problems remembering recent events, such as what they did last week or instructions the doctor gave this morning for taking a new medicine. The inability to recall recent events contrasts sharply with the person’s ability to remember minor details and events from years earlier.
The memory loss characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease is followed by many other cognitive and behavioral symptoms. Eventually, over many years, the person loses many mental and physical abilities and requires round-the-clock care.
Mild cognitive impairment is the term used by medical professionals when memory loss is greater than what “normally” occurs with aging, but a person is still able to perform normal daily activities. MCI can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Memory loss in MCI is more severe than purely age-related memory loss.
It’s unclear how many people have MCI, nor which factors contribute to the progression from MCI to Alzheimer’s disease.
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Stage : Mild Dementia
At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:
- Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
- Difficulty recognizing faces and people
In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.
Other Causes Of Short
It’s normal to be concerned if you experience occasional memory lapses, but you can rest reassured that not all short-term memory problems are a sign of Alzheimer’s. In fact, there’s a wide variety of reasons you might experience short-term memory impairment, many of which are temporary or easily treatable.
- Acute grief
- Conditions in the brain
- Certain diseases of the thyroid, kidney, or liver
- Medications, among them the antidepressant Paxil and the heartburn drug Tagamet
- Drinking too much alcohol
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Talking With A Doctor
After considering the persons symptoms and ordering screening tests, the doctor may offer a preliminary diagnosis or refer the person to a Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinic, neurologist, geriatrician or psychiatrist.Some people may be resistant to the idea of visiting a doctor. In some cases, people do not realise, or else they deny, that there is anything wrong with them. This can be due to the brain changes of dementia that interfere with the ability to recognise or appreciate the changes occurring. Others have an insight of the changes, but may be afraid of having their fears confirmed.One of the most effective ways to overcome this problem is to find another reason for a visit to the doctor. Perhaps suggest a check-up for a symptom that the person is willing to acknowledge, such as blood pressure, or suggest a review of a long-term condition or medication.Another way is to suggest that it is time for both of you to have a physical check-up. Any expressed anxiety by the person is an excellent opportunity to suggest a visit to the doctor. Be sure to provide a lot of reassurance. A calm, caring attitude at this time can help overcome the person’s very real worries and fears.Sometimes, your friend or family member may refuse to visit the doctor to ask about their symptoms. You can take a number of actions to get support including:
- talking with other carers who may have had to deal with similar situations
- contacting your local Aged Care Assessment Team
Emotional Causes Of Memory Loss
Because our mind and body are connected and affect each other, our emotions and thoughts can impact our brain. The energy it takes to cope with certain feelings or life stress can get in the way of storing or remembering details and schedules.
Often, these emotional triggers of memory loss can be improved by support, counseling, and lifestyle changes. Even just being aware ofand limiting exposure tothings that increase stress can help.
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Recognition And Coordination Difficulties
A person showing early signs of dementia may put everyday things in unusual places . They may have difficulty recognising familiar items such as a chair, soap, toothbrush, cutlery, kettle, coffee jar, cooker or fridge.
Signs of a loss of coordination skills can include struggling to undo or do up buttons, to tie or untie shoes and neckties, and to use a hair brush or razor. They may be more subtle, such as putting down a cup of tea too close to the edge of a table or having difficulties lifting a teapot or kettle or using a knife to cut vegetables or fruit.
Problems Carrying Out Day
Difficulty with self-care usually develops over time. For example, without help, some people with dementia may not pay much attention to personal hygiene. They may forget to wash or change their clothes. Remembering to take medication can become an issue. The person may also have difficulty keeping up their home. Shopping, cooking and eating may become difficult. This can lead to weight loss. Driving may be dangerous and not possible for someone with dementia.
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What Research Is Being Done
Scientists all over the world are working hard to gain a better understanding of the many different aspects of dementia. This might help to develop preventive measures, improved early detection diagnostic tools, better and longer-lasting treatments, and even cures.
For example, early research suggests a common asthma drug called zileuton might slow, stop, and potentially reverse the development of proteins in the brain. These proteins are common in people with Alzheimers disease.
Another recent research development suggests deep brain stimulation could be an effective way to limit symptoms of Alzheimers in older patients. This method has been used to treat symptoms of Parkinsons disease, such as tremors, for decades.
Now, researchers are looking at the possibility of slowing the progression of Alzheimers.
Scientists are investigating a variety of factors they think might influence the development of dementia, including:
- genetic factors
What Is The Main Cause Of Dementia
Your brain is made up of neurons that pass messages around the brain from the rest of the body. When you do something as simple as lifting your arm, it fires electrical signals between the neurons to tell the arm to move.
As we get older there can be a build-up of proteins, known as plaques, on these neurons in the brain, called tangles. This stops the neurons from being able to communicate properly because they are no longer touching, so the electrical messages are slowed down or stopped. It works a bit like the plaque you get on your teeth, which stops your tongue from being able to touch the surface of the teeth.
This protein build-up can happen to any older person but is more widespread in the brains of people with Alzheimers dementia.
Proteins called Lewy Bodies are seen in brains of people with Parkinsons disease dementia and Lewy body dementia.
In Vascular Dementia there can be issues with the blood supply to parts of the brain which stop those neurons from working.
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Causes Of Memory Loss
Many of us experience some degree of memory problems at some point in our lives, and that, along with a modest decline in other cognitive skills, is common with aging. Short-term memory loss is something that should not be taken lightly and should be investigated further. Some memory problems are the result of treatable conditions, and memory loss can often be reversed when the condition is treated correctly. Possible causes of reversible memory loss can include:
- Minor head injury/trauma such as concussion
- Side effects of some medications
- A vitamin or thyroid deficiency
- Emotional disorders such as stress, anxiety, or depression
- A brain disease such as an infection or tumor
- Functional cognitive disorder
- Sleep problems such as sleep apnea and sleep deprivation
- Poor coordination and motor function
- Psychological changes such as personality changes, inappropriate behavior, depression, agitation, anxiety, paranoia, and hallucination