At times, we all forget details like where we placed our keys or we forget to buy an item on our grocery list. This is normal. Regardless of age, when we are feel stressed or fatigued it is not uncommon to forget details. As a result, many of us develop techniques to aid our memory including checklists, calendars, and “to do lists”.
As people age, the amount of time it takes to learn and retain new information may increase in duration. However, with time and patience normal functioning older adults will be able to retain and recall this new information.
Many older adults are fearful of memory loss. Research shows that there are steps one can take to promote a healthy brain. The Alzheimer’s Association offers the following tips.
Healthy Brain Tips:
Eat healthily: Lean towards foods rich in anti-oxidants and folic acid as well as water and fruit juice. Avoid fatty foods, caffeine, and alcoholic beverages.
- Stay active: Find activities that exercise your body and your brain.
- Support system: Maintain a good support system that allows for social interaction.
- Rest, relax, and sleep: Stress and lack of sleep can have negative effects on your body. Maintain balance within your life.
- Visit your doctor: Annual physicals allow you to talk with your doctor, ask questions, and monitor your health and medications.
When memory loss becomes more significant
For some, memory loss can be more significant. When memory loss begins to interfere with day-to-day functioning the problem may be a warning sign of something more. For example:
- Difficulty managing medications
- Significant weight loss due to missed meals
- Frequent hospitalizations due to noncompliance with medication regime
- Inability to organize finances, overdrawn accounts, and vulnerability to scams
- Disorganized household, decreased cleanliness
- Failure to meet deadlines at work
Family, friends, and acquaintances should take note when a significant change in skill, routine, or behavior occurs. For example:
- An accountant who can no longer add 2+2
- A computer programmer who cannot remember how to turn on the computer
It is important to note that any one of the issues mentioned above alone does not signify memory loss. Instead, it offers a “red flag” which warrants additional attention and investigation.
What to do if memory loss is suspected?
Whenever memory loss is suspected the first step is to see a physician. Your primary physician can refer you to a specialist who can work to identify the cause of the memory loss. Generally, your physician may refer you to a neurologist, internist, and/or a psychiatrist.
Why is a physician visit needed?
Memory loss can have numerous causes. Some medical conditions when left untreated can result in increased confusion and memory loss. As a result, an individual could be diagnosed inaccurately with a form of dementia when, in fact, they may have a medical condition such as a thyroid problem, lack of Vitamin B12, a medication/drug reaction, infection, or depression. A physician will complete a battery of tests to identify any treatable conditions and recommend treatment if appropriate.
If the memory loss and confusion are due to a medical condition, when treated the individual may notice a decrease or elimination of symptoms.
Parks’ Place Memory Care is a privately owned assisted living home, specialized and specifically designed for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Our home is for people of any stage of dementia so they are able to age-in-place in their home. For tours, general information, or admission inquiry, please contact Kaitlin Kelly at 612-358-3725.