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.
Walking: An easy way to fight memory loss
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At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood.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.
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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What Is Memory Loss
We all have times when we forget where we put our keys. But memory loss can take many different formsfrom mild memory lapses to longer-term memory loss.
Memory loss is a term that describes a variety of different cognitive complaints, says Jason Karlawish, M.D., professor of medicine, medical ethics and health policy, and neurology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, co-director of the Penn Memory Center and author of The Problem of Alzheimers: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease Into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It.
One of those complaints may be trouble remembering information, says Dr. Karlawish. But folks who complain about memory loss are often having troubles with other cognitive abilities like attention or concentration or language. Whatever the actual problem, its concerning if its creating inefficiencies or disabilities in daily activities.
There are different kinds of memory loss, each with its own symptoms and causes.
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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Does Memory Loss Mean Dementia Is Starting
One common misbelief about memory loss is that it always means you or a loved one has dementia. There are many causes of memory loss. Memory loss alone doesnt necessarily confirm a diagnosis of dementia.
Its also true that some memory changes are normal as a person ages . However, this type of memory loss isnt functionally disabling meaning, it doesnt interfere with daily life.
Dementia interferes with your ability to function. Dementia isnt forgetting where you left your keys. A person with dementia can have situations like forgetting what keys are used for. Dementia isnt a normal part of aging.
Finding The Cause Of Memory Loss
If you find that you are increasingly forgetful or if memory problems interfere with your daily life, schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause and best treatment.
To evaluate memory loss, your doctor will take a medical history, perform a physical exam — including a neurologic exam — and ask questions to test mental ability. Depending on the results, further evaluation may include blood and urine tests, nerve tests, and imaging tests of the brain such as computerized axial tomography scans or magnetic resonance imaging .
You may also be sent for neuropsychological testing, which is a battery of tests that help pinpoint the memory loss.
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The Stages Of Dementia Life Expectancy
When we hit a certain age, we expect things to become a little more difficult. While aging is a natural part of life, it does come with its challenges, mentally, physically, and emotionally. The later phase of life is often accompanied by difficulties such as motor impairment, mental ailments, and cognitive decline. Struggling with things like memory or recognition can impact the quality of one’s life, not to mention, take a toll on the individual’s family and loved ones.
Aging and the challenges it brings can seem like an ‘old people’ problem. However, in truth, the struggles of aging can affect your life at any point, regardless of whether you are a child or an adult. Whether it’s a parent or grandparent, watching a loved one suffer from cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s or Dementia can be a heartbreaking experience. Though every individual’s circumstances are unique to them, one condition, which commonly impacts most people as they age, is dementia. This article will cover dementia symptoms and stages, as well as the most effective treatment options.
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.
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Symptoms Specific To Frontotemporal Dementia
Although Alzheimer’s disease is still the most common type of dementia in people under 65, a higher percentage of people in this age group may develop frontotemporal dementia than older people. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 45-65.
Early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia may include:
- personality changes reduced sensitivity to others’ feelings, making people seem cold and unfeeling
- lack of social awareness making inappropriate jokes or showing a lack of tact, though some people may become very withdrawn and apathetic
- language problems difficulty finding the right words or understanding them
- becoming obsessive such as developing fads for unusual foods, overeating and drinking
Read more about frontotemporal dementia.
When To Seek Medical Care If You Think You Or Someone You Know May Have Dementia
A person affected with dementia may not be aware he or she has a problem. Most people with dementia are brought to medical attention by a caring relative or friend. Any of the following warrant a visit to the person’s health care professional.
- Behavior or personality changes
- Persistent or frequent poor judgment
- Persistent or frequent confusion or disorientation, especially in familiar situations
- Inability to manage personal finances
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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.
Difficulty In Remembering Words
At times people who suffer from memory loss may also have trouble remembering words easily too. It is even though these same individuals might not have any issues pronouncing the word correctly. This is when someone asks them. This is typical because memory problems can make it difficult for an individual to recall the word when they need to use it.
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Whats The Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimers Disease
Dementia is a description of the state of a persons mental function and not a specific disease. Dementia is an umbrella category describing mental decline thats severe enough to interfere with daily living.
There are many underlying causes of dementia, including Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease. Alzheimers disease is the most common underlying cause of dementia.
What Are The Risk Factors For Dementia
Risk factors for dementia include:
- Age: This is the strongest risk factor. Your chance of dementia increases as you age. Most cases affect people over the age of 65.
- Family history: If you have biological parents or siblings with dementia, youre more likely to develop dementia.
- Down syndrome: If you have Down syndrome, youre at risk of developing early-onset Alzheimers disease by middle age.
- Poor heart health: If you have high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis or smoke, you increase your risk of dementia. These health problems, as well as diabetes, affect your blood vessels. Damaged blood vessels can lead to reduced blood flow and strokes.
- Race and ethnicity: If youre a Black person, you have twice the risk as a white person for developing dementia. If youre a Hispanic person, youre 1.5 times more likely than a white person to develop dementia.
- Brain injury: If youve had a severe brain injury, youre at a higher risk for dementia.
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Preventing Dementia: What The Research Shows
If dementia runs in your family and you’re worried about how it may affect you, the good news is, research shows several preventative steps you can take at home in order to significantly reduce the risks and chances of getting dementia. Some of these include:
Exercise and Stay Fit
Activities like walking, gardening, swimming can make all the difference. Exercising is good for the heart and blood circulation and keeps your mind and body healthy.
Exercise Your Brain
One of the best ways of keeping dementia at bay is keeping your mind sharp and active, which is why puzzles like sudoku, quizzes, learning a new language, or simply reading to expand your knowledge base are all highly recommended.
Cut Back on Bad Habits
If you haven’t done so already, give up smoking and cut back on alcohol and caffeine and eat as healthy as you can. The food you eat fuels your body and impacts every inch of you, so make sure you’re only putting good things in there. Smoking, alcohol, and drugs can also cause other illnesses and health complications.
While there is no way of preventing dementia with certainty, these are just some little changes you can make and things you can do to improve your overall health and hopefully prevent dementia.
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Who Can Diagnose Dementia
Visiting a primary care doctor is often the first step for people who are experiencing changes in thinking, movement, or behavior. However, neurologists doctors who specialize in disorders of the brain and nervous system are often consulted to diagnose dementia. Geriatric psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, and geriatricians may also be able to diagnose dementia. Your doctor can help you find a specialist.
If a specialist cannot be found in your community, contact the nearest medical school neurology department for a referral. A medical school hospital also may have a dementia clinic that provides expert evaluation. You can also visit the Alzheimers Disease Research Centers directory to see if there is an NIA-funded center near you. These centers can help with obtaining a diagnosis and medical management of conditions.
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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.
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 causing short-term memory loss are anti-anxiety drugs and narcotic painkillers .
Performance LabNUTRITION FOR YOUR MIND
Its almost impossible to live a lifestyle that provides all the nutrients needed for good brain health and performance. The reason? All of us confront multiple nutrient thieves stress, poor diet, insomnia, pharmaceuticals, pollution, and more that steal nutrients that the brain needs to thrive.
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
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What Are The Causes Of Dementia
Dementia is caused by damage to your brain. Dementia affects your brains nerve cells, which destroys your brains ability to communicate with its various areas. Dementia can also result from blocked blood flow to your brain, depriving it of needed oxygen and nutrients. Without oxygen and nutrients, brain tissue dies.
Damage to your brain results in different symptoms, depending on the area of your brain affected. Some dementias arent reversible and will worsen over time. Other dementias are due to other medical conditions that also affect your brain. Another group of health issues can result in dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions are treatable, and the dementia symptoms are reversible.
All of the possible causes of dementia are discussed in the question, Are there different types of dementia?
What Does Memory Loss Look Like In A Person With Dementia
Memory loss can be a symptom of any type of dementia. For people with Alzheimers disease, it is often among the very first signs.
Memory can be affected in different ways. These include:
- not being able to create new memories this means that recent events are not recorded in the persons memory and so cannot be recalled later. For example, the person may forget a conversation they have just had.
- taking longer to retrieve information this means that, even though the person is still able to recall things, this takes them much longer or they might need a prompt. For example, they might need more time to find the name for an object.
- not being able to retrieve information this means that, even though the person may be able to create new memories, they are not able to access them when needed. For example, they may get lost in familiar surroundings or on journeys they have taken many times.
Memory loss affects everyone differently but many people with dementia experience some of the following:
- forgetting recent conversations or events
- struggling to find the right word in a conversation
- forgetting names of people and objects
- losing or misplacing items
- getting lost in familiar surroundings or on familiar journeys
- forgetting how to carry out familiar tasks
- forgetting appointments or anniversaries
- not being able to keep track of medication, and whether or when it has been taken
- struggling to recognise faces of people they know well.
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