Has there been a time where you suddenly forgot something? Of course, it happens to us all and isn’t something uncommon. When should you worry about memory loss? The answer isn’t always that simple.
Even though you forget the name of that famous actor from a well-loved movie, or that neighbor down the block you see only a few times a year, that doesn’t mean you’re developing a deeper memory loss condition. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are diseases that result in a loss of brain function with an effect on memory, thinking, and behavior, with signs and symptoms that can be identified.
Forgetfulness, a Cause for Concern?
There are a number of scenarios that are associated with forgetfulness that stem from normal behavior and aging:
- Facts being forgotten over time. Also referred to by researchers as “transience”, or how the brain makes room for new memories to be stored.
- Absentmindedness. A situation where your brain didn’t fully grasp details, likely because you were distracted. An example would be walking into a room and forgetting what the original intent was.
- Not recalling the memory in the moment. Also called “blocking,” it is when a memory is essentially on the tip of your tongue. Another memory could be pushing it aside, and with relaxation the forgotten one may come back.
- Minor details get slipped up. Also known as “misattribution”, you remember part of the memory, but just in full.
- Distorted memories. Suggestibility, or how a memory changes in the way you recall it, can happen every once in a while.
- Memory bias. People who have the same experience can recall it in differing ways. This can be biased upon your personality and other related experiences.
When to Worry
It’s important to remember that there is a time for real concern with your loved one, but it is ultimately a discussion with a physician that must determine the risk.
The following situations and scenarios are times of trouble that may be leading to something more
- Disruption of daily living. The instance of forgetting details you just learned, needing information constantly repeated, or repeating a lot yourself, or requiring notes and memory aides for tasks you never needed them for.
- Familiar places are no more. Getting lost and forgetting how to find your way to a commonplace such as the grocery store or the park. Also arriving somewhere and suddenly not knowing where you are.
- Misplacing objects. Even after retracing steps or looking in the usual spot, they are unable to be found or end up being located in unusual spots.
You should consult a physician if these changes in behavior are appearing more frequently. Difficulty with planning and problem solving can have a larger effect on your loved one’s ability to take care of themselves.
Causes of Memory Loss
There are other medical problems that can cause memory loss symptoms which fortunately, can be treated.
- Medications: pain medicines or those used to treat anxiety or urinary incontinence — have been known to lead to memory issues. Review the side effects of all prescribed medications and consult with your physician on what to watch closely for.
- Mental and psychological health: Depression and anxiety can not only cloud judgement, but result in a foggy memory as well and disrupt concentration.
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency: common in aging adults, a low level of vitamin B-12 has been attributed to issues with memory.
- Hypothyroidism: when the thyroid gland isn’t functioning as well as it should, memory issues can be a result.
- Previous injury: A fall or other injury that affected the head can cause minor memory loss. Strokes can also give way to apparent memory loss as individuals recover.
Lowering your risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia
While the risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia can be linked to genetics, there are a few lifestyle measures that can be done to reduce the risk.
Regular exercise not only helps the body build strength and mobility, but it can also work towards brain health as well. As you are getting the heart rate up, blood and oxygen flow to your brain will increase with it.
A healthy diet is an essential part of fueling not just your body as a whole, but also the brain. Vitamin-rich meals that include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are recommended.
Two diets have been tried and true to suggest an impact on lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. These are known as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and the Mediterranean diet. Both reduce the consumption of red meat and emphasize more healthy fats along with fruits, vegetables, low fat or fat-free dairy products, and protein sources like beans, poultry, and fish.
Mental stimulation through brain training apps or board games is the equivalent of moving the muscles with a treadmill. Keeping the mind stimulated and active will keep the brain’s flexibility – or neuroplasticity in good shape. You can teach an aging brain to enhance its cognitive capacity.
Quality sleep is good for so many other reasons, but cognitive health is another one. According to a study, sleep deprivation is known to increase the amount of beta-amyloid, proteins that stick together in the brain to form amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s.
Stress is not good for cardiovascular health, and translates to brain health as well. Cortisol is the hormone released from stress, which in turn affects cognitive function and memory.
The Kensington – Your Partners in Memory Care
Memory loss is tough for everyone involved. Friends and family of a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia are in a position of crossroads, with a lot of questions. Alzheimer’s and dementia is a journey that does not have to be faced alone.
The Kensington at Redondo Beach is here to help. Staffed with a team that provides exceptional care, with a promise to love and care for your family as we do our own. With individualized care, we leverage every resident’s strengths and bring joy to each day.
A vibrant menu to support your loved one’s nutritional needs and alleviate the need to cook for themselves is always there. 24/7 monitoring and regular programs for exercise, mobility training, and rehabilitation allow for fall risks to be minimized, and balance to be strived for. A routine filled with fun, or an atmosphere that makes them feel at home is just what you’re loved one may be looking for, and we are here to provide the best in Alzheimer’s and dementia care for varying needs.
If you have questions on what makes The Kensington different, give us a call today!
Additional Recommended Reading:
- Short Term Memory Loss: Sign of Alzheimer’s or Dementia?
- The Signs of Memory Loss: When to Ask for Help
- When Senior Moments Become Something More
- Can Seniors Alter Their Genetic Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease?
- “The Memory Ensemble”: How Improv Helps Mild Memory Loss
- Caring for a Spouse with Memory Loss
- Is It Alzheimer’s — or Normal Age-Related Memory Loss?