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.
There Is A Difference Between Memory Loss As A Part Of Normal Ageing And As A Symptom Of Dementia
This information describes those differences and provides some tips on keeping your memory sharp.
One of the main symptoms of dementia is memory loss.
We all forget things from time to time, but the loss of memory with dementia is very different. It is persistent and progressive, not just occasional. It may affect the ability to continue to work or carry out familiar tasks. It may mean having difficulty finding the way home. Eventually it may mean forgetting how to dress or how to bathe.
An example of normal forgetfulness is walking into the kitchen and forgetting what you went in there for, or misplacing the car keys. A person with dementia however, may lose the car keys and then forget what they are used for.
What Is Short Term And Long Term Memory
Shortterm memoryshortterm memorylongterm memory
. Furthermore, what is the difference between short term and long term memory?
1. Short–term memory has a fairly limited capacity and can hold items for only short periods of time while long–term memory can store unlimited amounts of information indefinitely. The more that short–term memory information is used or repeated, the more likely it is to become part of the long–term memory.
Additionally, what is the difference between sensory short term and long term memory? Information passes from sensory memory into short–term memory, where again it is held for only a short period of time. While many of your short–term memories are quickly forgotten, paying attention to the information and processing it allows it to continue into long–term memory.
Then, what is considered short term memory?
Short–term memory is the information that a person is currently thinking about or is aware of. It is also called primary or active memory. Recent events and sensory data such as sounds are stored in short–term memory. Short–term memory often encompasses events over a period anywhere from 30 seconds to several days.
What goes first short or long term memory?
Short and Long Term Memory. Once a memory is created, it must be stored . Many experts think there are three ways we store memories: first in the sensory stage then in short–term memory and ultimately, for some memories, in long–term memory.
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Different Kinds Of Long
There are several different types of long-term memories stored in your brain. These include:
- Semantic Memory
- Semantic memories are part of the declarative memory and refer specifically to knowing the meaning of words and actions. An example of a semantic memory is understanding what the word “memory” means.
How Insomnia Causes Short
Getting adequate sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your brain, yet over 50 million Americans struggle with chronic insomnia.
Sleep-deprived brains are inefficient and have to work harder.
Lack of quality sleep wreaks havoc on both your long-term and short-term memories.
Normally, you should be able to remember three to seven bits of information at a time, but when you dont get enough quality sleep, that number plummets to one or two.
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Key Points About Normal Forgetfulness
- As we get older, the most common change that we complain about is memory change. Knowledge of how memory changes as we get older is a lot more positive than in the past. Memory change with healthy ageing certainly doesn’t interfere with everyday life in a dramatic way.
Based on Remembering Well, by Delys Sergeant and Anne Unkenstein.
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.
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Stage : Age Associated Memory Impairment
This stage features occasional lapses of memory most frequently seen in:
- Forgetting where one has placed an object
- Forgetting names that were once very familiar
Oftentimes, this mild decline in memory is merely normal age-related cognitive decline, but it can also be one of the earliest signs of degenerative dementia. At this stage, signs are still virtually undetectable through clinical testing. Concern for early onset of dementia should arise with respect to other symptoms.
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.
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What Residents Say
“In my two years at PPH, Ive grown to like it very much. At first, I felt like a stranger and then as I began to talk to people, we increasingly became good friends. A way to meet people is to join clubs. Im now part of the PPH Auxiliary. I love helping with their flea markets because you never know what you can find. Recently, Ive joined an evening quilting class. I love that I can continue to enjoy my life outside of PPH while experiencing the offers here..especially the pool! Everything is just so convenient.
How To Get Help
If you or your loved one drink a lot and affect your memory and overall health, you can seek help. Here are some places to start:
- Talk to your primary care doctor. If you drink heavily, you may need medical support when you decide to stop drinking to prevent potentially severe withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor may recommend that you go to a hospital or alcohol treatment facility for help.
- Find a local alcohol-free anonymous meeting near you. These meetings are free and have helped thousands of people stay awake.
- Talk to friends and family, and if you think you need help, please tell them. Their support can help you through difficult times.
You should never be ashamed or afraid of asking for help. These steps can save your life.
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When Should I Speak To A Doctor About Dementia
See your doctor for a full examination if you notice several of these signs:
Its important not to assume someone has dementia based on these symptoms alone. Other treatable conditions such as depression, infections, hormone imbalances and nutritional deficiencies can also cause dementia-like symptoms.
What To Do If You Suspect Your Family Member Is Showing Symptoms Of Dementia
If you notice a change in a family member’s ability to recall information, repeating themselves, becoming confused, struggling with their vocabulary or completing tasks that would otherwise seem easy , consider accompanying them to an appointment with their family doctor as soon as possible.
A doctor can perform memory tests and others to measure blood pressure and check levels of various chemicals, hormones and vitamins in the body. The family physician can refer the patient to a memory clinic as well, where more testing can be done to determine if the diagnosis is dementia.
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Recent Or Upcoming Events
If someone cant remember something, such as a past conversation or visit you had, dont try and force them to remember, as this can leave them embarrassed and frustrated. For upcoming events, such as meal times or even when people are visiting, you can leave reminders on sticky notes in places where they regularly visit.
Setting a regular daily routine can also make it easier for them to remember what is going to be happening or what happens at certain times during the day.
The Seven Stages Of Dementia
One of the most difficult things to hear about dementia is that, in most cases, dementia is irreversible and incurable. However, with an early diagnosis and proper care, the progression of some forms of dementia can be managed and slowed down. The cognitive decline that accompanies dementia conditions does not happen all at once – the progression of dementia can be divided into seven distinct, identifiable stages.
Learning about the stages of dementia can help with identifying signs and symptoms early on, as well as assisting sufferers and caretakers in knowing what to expect in further stages. The earlier dementia is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can start.
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Are Your Conversations Getting Stalled
We all have to search for the right word from time to time. And its normal for this to happen more often as we get older, Yasar notes. Whats not: extreme difficulty remembering words, calling things and people by the wrong words or names and withdrawing socially as a result. Having more and more trouble following, joining or continuing a conversation or even following plot on TV may also be a red flag for dementia risk.
Memory Slips In Your 70s May Be An Early Hint Of Future Dementia
- By , Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Of all the health issues that loom large with age, memory loss is among those that provoke the most worry. A big reason is the uncertainty: people often wonder if their occasional memory slips are just a normal part of growing old or early signs of Alzheimers disease, the most common form of dementia. A study, published in todays issue of the journal Neurology, sheds some lightand perhaps offers a bit of reassuranceabout the connection between self-reported memory loss and a diagnosis of dementia.
The study included 531 people with an average age of 73 and no signs of Alzheimers or signs of dementia. They took memory and thinking tests every year for an average of 10 years. Researchers also asked participants if they noticed any changes in their memory over the past year. Slightly more than half reported memory changes, at an average age of 82.
Memory loss warning signs: When should you worry?
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Who Is The Most At Risk Of Developing Dementia
When it comes to dementia there are some risks that we can and cant control.
Factors that we cant control that increase our risk of developing dementia are age , genetics and sex women have a greater chance of developing dementia than men.
The good news is that there are things we can control that can help minimize our risk of developing dementia. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet are both recommended. Making sure youre physically active everyday is important and Frank insists exercising your brain is equally as crucial through hobbies and puzzles.
Eliminating smoking and excessive alcohol consumption while adhering to a wholesome diet like the Mediterranean diet can help keep your body and mind in shape.
Another strategy is to watch out for high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes and to treat those because any factors that prevent heart attack and stroke will also prevent or delay dementia, Franks says.
Infections Of The Brain Or Its Lining
Infections like HIV, tuberculosis and herpes can cause memory problems. HIV puts the function of nerve cells at risk by infecting the cells that protect and support them. The virus can also trigger inflammation that can damage the brain and cause forgetfulness. With tuberculosis, memory loss can be a complaint. However, prompt treatment can resolve these problems. Meanwhile, herpes simplex virus can cause a rare neurological disorder called herpes simplex encephalitis. This inflammation of the brain can lead to memory loss. Antiviral drugs may help if treatment is started right away.
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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.
What Are Common Symptoms Of Dementia
According to experts, the most common symptom of dementia is short-term memory loss. This includes forgetting something that happened or was said within the last 10-15 minutes, repeating oneself and asking the same questions.
Dr. Andrew Frank, a cognitive neurologist at the Bruyere Memory Program at Ottawas Elisabeth Bruyere Hospital, lists other symptoms as deterioration in language, words and judgement.
The odd forgetfulness of a word or name that comes back to you later is normal, especially as we age or if we are stressed or sleep deprived. Its when the memories are not coming back at all that’s a signal of a much deeper problem.
One of the rules of thumb is that if youre realizing your own memory problem, thats a good sign because youre remembering youre forgetting, Frank explains in an interview with Yahoo Canada. Its more serious if you are not realizing that youre forgetting, meaning youre forgetting that youre forgetting and that can be a sign of something more serious like dementia.
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