Age-Related Memory Loss What39s Normal, What39s Not, and When to

Openmedi.orgCauses of memory loss

04:36 | Author: Lauren Ross

Causes of memory loss
Age-Related Memory Loss What39s Normal, What39s Not, and When to

Mild Cognitive Impairment – Description of Mild Cognitive Impairment, how it differs from dementia, and how it can be diagnosed and handled. (University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center).

Trouble making choices; May show poor judgment or behave in socially inappropriate ways.

The doctor will ask you a lot of question about your memory, including:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Improve Cognitive Function (commercial site) – Report on how fish oils, specifically DHA, help prevent memory loss. (Life Enhancement).

9. Does your loved one become more confused outside the home or when traveling? Yes No.

Confusion, Memory Loss and Altered Alertness – Q & A about memory loss, what to do if you're worried about losing your memory, and what to expect as you grow older. (University of Michigan Health System).

When memory loss becomes so pervasive and severe that it disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships, you may be experiencing the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, or another disorder that causes dementia, or a condition that mimics dementia.

15. Does your loved one have difficulty completing home repair or other home-related tasks, such as housekeeping? Yes No.

A recent study found that the more medications you take, the higher your risk for brain atrophy. Researchers found that the loss of gray matter was most acute in people who took three or more different medications.

The brain is capable of producing new brain cells at any age, so significant memory loss is not an inevitable result of aging. But just as it is with muscle strength, you have to use it or lose it. Your lifestyle, health habits, and daily activities have a huge impact on the health of your brain. Whatever your age, there are many ways you can improve your cognitive skills, prevent memory loss, and protect your grey matter.

Good habits can help you compensate for a bad memory. If you’re having trouble remembering develop a routine to reinforce consistent habits. Keep your keys on a hook by the door, park in the same area so you can find your car with less effort, and link medication regimens with other activities, such as eating a meal. Memory aids, such as notebooks or smartphones, are also helpful for tracking to-do lists, appointments, and important dates.

21. Does your loved one have trouble recognizing familiar people? (2 points) Yes No.

May pause to remember directions, but doesn’t get lost in familiar places.

Gets lost or disoriented even in familiar places; unable to follow directions.

Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) include:

5. Does your loved one misplace items more than once per month, or so that he or she can't find them? Yes No.

13. Does your loved one have difficulty driving or are you concerned about him or her driving? Yes No.

This questionnaire is not intended to replace professional diagnosis. Source: BMC Geriatrics.

Unable to recall or describe specific instances where memory loss caused problems.

18. Does he or she have a decreased sense of direction? Yes No.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s – Lists the ten warning signs of Alzheimer's disease and differentiates them from normal, occasional forgetfulness. (Alzheimer's Association).

When it comes to memory, it’s “use it or lose it.” Just as physical exercise can make and keep your body stronger, mental exercise can make your brain work better and lower the risk of mental decline. Try to find brain exercises that you find enjoyable. The more pleasurable an activity is to you, the more powerful its effect will be on your brain. You can make some activities more enjoyable by appealing to your senses—by playing music during the exercise, for example, or lighting a scented candle, or rewarding yourself after you’ve finished.

Memory Loss: Protecting Your Mind and Coping with Concerns (PDF) includes tips to help keep your mind sharp as you age: (Pri-Med Patient Education Center, Harvard Medical School).

Understanding Memory Loss (PDF) – Uses case-study examples to show different degrees and causes of forgetfulness and other lapses in cognition, with advice for diagnosis and ways to compensate for memory loss. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: National Institute on Aging).

Adapted with permission from Harvard Health Letter: November 2013, a special health report published by Harvard Health Publications.

It’s 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 to talk with your primary physician and have a thorough physical examination.

3. Does your loved one repeat questions, statements, or stories in the same day? (2 points) Yes No.

Your ability to recall words and use them properly may become impaired. But continuing to chat with family and friends is the best way to keep language skills fresh. When you can’t think of a word figure out another way to get the meaning across—or just say that you’re having trouble finding the precise word. Getting anxious will only inhibit recall, so pause to allow for the possibility that the word may or may not come back to you, then move on in your conversation.

Before diagnosing dementia or mild cognitive decline, it’s important to rule out reversible causes of memory loss. Your health, environment, and lifestyle can all contribute to memory problems. Sometimes, even what looks like significant memory loss can be caused by treatable conditions and reversible external factors.

16. Has your loved one given up or significantly cut back on hobbies such as golf, dancing, exercise, or crafts? Yes No.

While the Alzheimer’s Questionnaire is considered quite accurate, it should not be used as a definitive guide to diagnosing mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease, but as a tool to test whether your loved one needs further assessment.

Use this questionnaire to test whether a person's memory loss needs further assessment.

Judgment and decision-making ability the same as always.

The questions are intended to be answered by a spouse, close friend, or other loved one.

19. Does your loved one have trouble finding words other than names? Yes No.

Here are some ideas for brain exercise, from light workouts to heavy lifting:

If you are concerned about the medications you're taking, talk to your doctor. But do NOT stop taking your medications without your doctor's consent.

While many people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia, that doesn’t mean it’s 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, especially when accompanied by trouble moving your legs and feet, the greater your risk of developing dementia some time in the future.

10. Does your loved one have trouble handling money (tips, calculating change)? Yes No.

For most people, occasional lapses in memory are a normal part of the aging process, not a warning sign of serious mental deterioration or the onset of dementia.

MCI often impairs your ability to interact with your visual world, which may include finding your way home and judging distances when you’re driving. For early MCI, you can use GPS in your car and avoid driving during high-traffic times and in unfavorable weather conditions. For more advanced MCI, an on-the-road driving evaluation with a driver rehabilitation specialist can help determine if you have the skills to continue driving.

4. Have you had to take over tracking events or appointments, or does your loved one forget appointments? Yes No.

Normal age-related memory changes.

Your executive function controls decision-making, planning, and organization. To combat potential confusion, simplify your choices and get rid of clutter. Clear out your closet to limit your clothing choices, pare down the number of cooking utensils and pots and pans in your kitchen. Label doors, cabinets, and boxes if you can’t remember what’s inside.

Able to recall and describe incidents of forgetfulness.

Words are frequently forgotten, misused, or garbled; Repeats phrases and stories in same conversation.

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Robert Segal, M.A. Last updated: October 2014. Memory Home Page.

Forgetfulness: Knowing When to Ask for Help – Discusses the distinction between memory lapses and dementia. (National Institute on Aging).

The same practices that contribute to healthy aging and physical vitality also contribute toa healthy memory.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) affects different areas of cognition for different people. But you can limit MCI’s daily impact with simple steps.

Even if you are experiencing a troublesome level of memory loss, there are many things you can do to learn new information and retain it.

20. Does your loved one confuse names of family members or friends? (2 points) Yes No.

The sooner you address the problem, the better, so make an appointment with your doctor right away. Your doctor can assess your personal risk factors, evaluate your symptoms, eliminate reversible causes of memory loss, and help you obtain appropriate care. Keep a list of your symptoms and concerns and ask family members for their observations. Write down specific information about the frequency, nature, and setting of your memory, cognitive, or behavior concerns. Take charge by learning how to cope with the impact of MCI. Also, learn how to recognize the symptoms of dementia. Knowing what to look out for can help you plan, adjust, and live life as fully and independently as possible. MCI / Alzheimer’s Questionnaire The following 21-question test is designed to measure mild cognitive impairment and your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The following types of memory lapses are normal among older adults and generally are not considered warning signs of dementia:

Able to function independently and pursue normal activities, despite occasional memory lapses.

8. Does your loved one become disoriented in unfamiliar places? Yes No.

Memory lapses can be frustrating, but most of the time they aren’t cause for concern. Age-related memory changes are not the same thing as dementia.

As well as certain individual medications, taking too many medications can also create cognitive problems.

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.

Folate May Help Forestall Forgetfulness – Summarizes research on how folate improves mental function and reduces memory loss. (US Department of Agriculture).

How to Improve Your Memory.

As we grow older, we experience physiological changes that can cause glitches in brain functions we’ve always taken for granted. It takes longer to learn and recall information. We’re not as quick as we used to be. In fact, we often mistake this slowing of our mental processes for true memory loss. But in most cases, if we give ourselves time, the information will come to mind.

7. Does your loved one frequently have trouble knowing the day, date, month, year, or time, or check the date more than once a day? (2 points) Yes No.

Tips to Help You Remember.

Furthermore, many mental abilities are largely unaffected by normal aging, such as:

Please answer all the questions Interpreting the score:

Forgetfulness is a common complaint among older adults. You start to talk about a movie you saw recently when you realize you can’t remember the title. You’re giving directions to your house when you suddenly blank on a familiar street name. You find yourself standing in the middle of the kitchen wondering what you went in there for.

More effort may be required to recall someone’s name, remember shared experiences, or hold up your end of a conversation. However, it’s vital to regularly stay in touch with friends and family, beyond the ephone. Maintaining social interaction is beneficial for preserving cognition, and many of the most pleasurable experiences are those you share with others. Regularly schedule any activity you enjoy—dancing, a visit to the theater, a walk in the park—that involves interaction with other people.

Symptoms that may indicate dementia.

Alzheimer's and Dementia Prevention.

The doctor also will want to know what medications you’re taking, how you’ve been eating and sleeping, whether you’ve been depressed or stressed lay, and other questions about what’s been happening in your life. Chances are the doctor will also ask you or your partner to keep track of your symptoms and check back in a few months. If your memory problem needs more evaluation, your doctor may send you to a neuropsychologist.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any signs of a more serious memory problem, it’s important to see a doctor to root out the cause.

6. Does your loved one suspect others of hiding or stealing items when he or she cannot find them? Yes No.

17. Does your loved one get lost in familiar surroundings, such as their own neighborhood? (2 points) Yes No.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) 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, it’s normal as you age to have some problems remembering the names of people. However, it’s 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.

Difficulty performing simple tasks (paying bills, dressing appropriay, washing up); forgetting how to do things you’ve done many times.

The primary difference between age-related memory loss and dementia is that the former isn’t disabling. The memory lapses have little impact on your daily performance and ability to do what you want to do.

11. Does your loved one have trouble paying bills or doing finances? (2 points) Yes No.

Occasional difficulty finding the right word, but no trouble holding a conversation.

2. If yes, is his or her memory worse than a few years ago? Yes No.

12. Does your loved one have trouble remembering to take medicines or tracking medications taken? Yes No.

New research indicates that walking six to nine miles every week can prevent brain shrinkage and memory loss. According to the American Academy of Neurology, older adults who walked between six and nine miles per week had more gray matter in their brains nine years after the start of the study than people who didn't walk as much. Researchers say that those who walked the most cut their risk of developing memory loss in half.

14. Is your loved one having trouble using applicances (e.g. microwave, oven, stove, remote control, ephone, alarm clock)? Yes No.

1. Does your loved one have memory loss? Yes No.

Causes of memory loss