As we get older, our ability to retain information changes. We’ve all forgotten where we’ve left our wallet or our cellphone - “Honey, have you seen my car keys?” - and we don’t consider it to be indicative of a health problem. Memory loss is a natural part of ageing, and it isn’t necessarily related to dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other diseases. Understanding the differences between age-related memory loss and illness can help you know when you might want to seek professional medical advice.
Memory is affected by a number of factors. Fatigue, stress, over-scheduling, changes in your environment and lifestyle, even some medications, can all conspire against us. Your brain is much like any other organ or muscle. Using it – giving it regular workouts – helps to keep it healthy and strong. Your gray matter matters! Read more on how to keep your brain healthy and strong here.
Age-related memory regression should not affect your ability to:
Continue enjoying your activities, hobbies, exercises, and other established routines
Make sound judgement calls relying on the wisdom and intelligence of your life experiences
Make common-sense assessments while dealing with difficult situations
“I just had them.” It was right on the tip of my tongue.” Qualities related to age-related memory loss:
Having trouble remembering a word, but not letting it interrupt your conversation “You know, the thingy, for the whatchamacallit!”
Mistakenly calling one of your children or grandchildren by the wrong name, but quickly remembering (No, Grandpa, I’m…)
Forgetting where you placed commonly-used items like the dog’s leash, your wallet or set of keys
Qualities related to illnesses such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are different:
Complications doing fundamental tasks - forgetting how to do the dishes, brush your teeth, or dress, etc.
Feeling disorientated or lost in familiar places (i.e. grocery stores, church, etc.)
Making poor choices and or acting out inappropriately in social or private settings
Visiting the Doctor for Diagnosis
If you believe that issues with memory are impacting your parents’ or grandparents’ quality of life or their safety, it is always wise to err on the side of caution and visit the doctor to discuss your concerns. Even if their symptoms don’t appear to be related to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, an examination by a physician is the best way to ensure they receive the care they need, and it’s a good way to get a benchmark. Some issues related to memory loss are reversible if treated in time.
The Doctor Will Have Questions. That’s a Good Thing
How long they’ve been experiencing issues with memory
The sort of things that they’ve been having trouble remembering
If they’ve experienced memory loss slowly or abruptly
Which medications they’ve been using
How much sleep they’ve been getting each night
If they’ve been anxious or depressed as of late
Memory loss in any capacity can be worrisome and should be addressed by health professionals. If memory loss is diagnosed and is affecting one or both of your parents, grandparents, or a loved one, they may benefit from personalized or 24-hour care. For more information about what can be done to assist a loved one dealing with memory issues, contact Assurance Home Care today!