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Memory Loss: When to Worry

Find out the difference between normal forgetfulness and something more serious, like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

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Many people become forgetful as they age. At times, this can become confusing and frightening. Most people immediately associate forgetfulness with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but many times symptoms of memory loss are simply the result of the natural aging process. Sometimes, these memory loss symptoms are the result of a medical problem that can be treated and even resolved.

Normal forgetfulness does not interfere with the ability to live independently. Older people may also notice that it takes longer to learn new things and perform complex memory and learning activities but, given time, they are still able to complete tasks.

Causes of Memory Loss

Memory loss can be the result of several conditions: medications, Vitamin B-12 deficiency, alcoholism, tumors in the brain, blood clots and disorders of the thyroid, kidney or liver. Stress and anxiety can also contribute to memory loss.

A condition called Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) may cause more serious memory loss symptoms, but is not as severe as Alzheimer’s disease and does not interfere with the ability to engage in normal activities of daily living.

When to Be Concerned

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease involve not only the loss of memory, but the loss of thinking and reasoning abilities to the extent that a person cannot maintain their normal activities. When memory loss interferes with the ability to perform basic tasks such as forgetting important events and appointments or having trouble remembering words, it may be dementia.

A common example that distinguishes between dementia and normal memory loss is this: Forgetting where you put your keys is normal; forgetting the word “key” or what a key is used for is a symptom of a serious problem and it is time to consult a physician.

For those facing any stage of memory loss, there are things that can be done to alleviate symptoms. Here are 5 suggestions:

  1. Plan tasks and use memory aids such as “To-Do” lists and calendars, and display them in a prominent location.
  2. Develop interests or hobbies to stay active and involved.
  3. Engaging in physical activity has been shown to increase memory and reduce symptoms. Limiting alcohol use, as that can contribute to memory loss.
  4. Reducing stress and anxiety through exercise or social interactions can improve memory functions.
  5. Try supplementing with Brain Support. It is a natural remedy to improve mental focus, concentration and memory.

Memory loss is normal as we age, but addressing and treating serious memory issues early will allow us to stay independent for as long as possible.

Alzheimer’s Association. (2015). 10 Early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Retrieved on 7/1/15 from http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_10_signs_of_alzheimers.asp.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Memory loss: When to seek help. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on 7/1/15 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/memory-loss/art-20046326.

National Institute for Health Staff. Forgetfulness: Knowing when to ask for help. National Institute on Aging. Retrieved on 7/1/15 from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/forgetfulness.

National Institute of Health Staff. Memory loss. Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved on 7/5/15 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003257.htm.

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