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Memory Loss: When to seek help



Everybody sometimes forgets things. How many times have you misplaced your car keys or forgotten the name of a person you just met?

A degree of memory problems and a modest decline in other thinking skills is a fairly common component of aging. However, there is a difference between normal memory changes and memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease (19459007) and related disorders. And some memory problems are the result of treatable states.

If you have memory problems, consult your doctor for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Memory loss and age

Normal age-related memory loss It does not prevent you from living a full and productive life. For example, you occasionally forget a person's name, but remember it later in the day. You could sometimes misplace your glasses. Or you may need to create lists more often than in the past to remember appointments or tasks.

These memory changes are usually manageable and do not affect your ability to work, live independently, or lead a social life.

Memory Loss and Dementia

The word "dementia" is a generic term used to describe a range of symptoms, including impairment of memory, thinking, judgment, language, and other thinking skills. Dementia usually starts gradually, worsening over time and affecting a person's skills in work, social interactions and relationships.

Often, memory loss that interferes with your life is one of the first or more recognizable signs of dementia. Other early signs could be:

  • Repeating the same questions
  • Forgetting the usual words when speaking
  • Mixing words – say "bed" instead of "table", for example
  • It takes longer, completing known tasks B. following a recipe
  • Moving items in inappropriate places For example, putting a wallet in a kitchen drawer
  • Walking while walking or walking in a familiar environment
  • Changes in mood or behavior for no apparent reason

Among the diseases causing progressive damage to the brain and consequently dementia lead, include:

  • Alzheimer's disease, the leading cause of dementia
  • Vascular dementia
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Lewy body dementia

] The disease process (pathology) of these conditions is slightly different. Memory disorders are not always the first sign and the nature of the memory problems varies. It is also possible to have more than one type of dementia called mixed dementia.

Mild Cognitive Impairment

This involves a notable decline in at least one range of thinking skills, such as memory, which is greater than that of aging and less than dementia. Mild cognitive impairments do not prevent you from doing everyday tasks and engaging socially.

Researchers and doctors still learn mild cognitive impairment. In many people, the condition eventually develops into dementia due to Alzheimer's disease or other dementia.

Other people's memory loss does not progress much and they do not develop a spectrum of symptoms associated with dementia.

Reversible Causes of Memory Loss

Many medical problems can cause memory loss or other dementia-like symptoms. Most of these conditions can be treated. Your doctor may alert you to conditions that cause a reversible memory disorder.

Possible causes of reversible memory loss are:

  • Medication Certain medications or a combination of medications can cause forgetfulness or confusion.
  • Inferior head trauma or injury. A head injury from a fall or accident – even if you do not lose consciousness – can cause memory problems.
  • emotion disorders. Stress, anxiety or depression can cause forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty concentrating and other issues that interfere with daily activities.
  • alcoholism. Chronic alcoholism can seriously affect mental abilities. Alcohol can also lead to memory loss through drug interactions.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency. Vitamin B-12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. Vitamin B-12 deficiency – common in older adults – can cause memory impairment.
  • hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism (hypothyroidism) can lead to forgetfulness and other thinking problems.
  • brain diseases.
  • A tumor or an infection in the brain can lead to memory disorders or other dementia-like symptoms.

When to call a doctor

If you are worried about memory loss, talk to your doctor. There are tests to determine the degree of memory impairment and to diagnose the cause.

Your doctor will probably ask you questions. It's good to have a family member or friend who answers a few observation-based questions. Questions could be:

  • When did your memory problems start?
  • What medications, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and dietary supplements, are you taking and in what dosage?
  • Did you start recently? a new drug?
  • Which tasks are difficult for you?
  • What did you do to deal with memory problems?
  • How much alcohol do you drink?
  • Have you recently had an accident, have you fallen or gone down head injury?
  • Have you been ill recently?
  • Do you feel sad, depressed or anxious?
  • Have you had a serious loss, significant change, or stressful event in your life recently?

In addition to a general physical exam, your doctor will likely perform question and answer tests to assess your memory and other thinking skills. He or she may also order blood tests and imaging studies to identify reversible causes of memory impairment and dementia-like symptoms.

You may be referred to a specialist in the diagnosis of dementia or memory impairment, such as a neurologist. Psychiatrist, psychologist or geriatrist.

The Importance of Diagnosis

Coping with memory loss and the possible onset of dementia can be difficult. Some people try to hide memory problems, and some family members or friends compensate for a person's memory loss, sometimes without being aware of how much they have adapted to the impairment.

Obtaining an immediate diagnosis is important, even if this is the case. By recognizing a reversible cause of memory impairment, you can be treated appropriately. Also, early diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease, or a related condition is beneficial because you may:

  • Treatments may begin to treat the symptoms
  • Inform yourself and your loved one about the disease
  • Determine The Future Care Preferences
  • ] Identify Care Facilities or Home Care Options
  • Clean Up Financial or Legal Issues

Your doctor may assist you in identifying community resources and community organizations, such as: As the Alzheimer's Association, to help you cope with memory loss and other dementia symptoms.

Updated: 2017-06-27

Release date: 1999-09-13


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