Experiencing and learning new things is an everyday occurrence. Your brain can only remember so many of those new things, and so it decides what is worth remembering. Memory is the process of storing and then recalling this information. Many people look at it as a filing cabinet. It doesn’t always work perfectly, and changes to our brain as we get older make it more challenging to remember things. Understanding when memory issues are typical, and when you should seek help is vital in the early intervention process.
Aging-Related Memory Loss- What is Normal?
Slight changes to our memory occur as we age. Learning new information, recalling information, and recognizing familiar information are some of the many memory processes that are disrupted, leading to forgetfulness. Misplacing keys, forgetting names, dates, and events, but remembering them later are all a part of average memory loss. If memory issues are not interfering with your ability to carry out your routine, then it is likely age-related.
When to Seek Help
Several things can cause memory issues, that are not always related to irreversible cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia. Medication side effects, underlying health problems, depression, or a brain injury are some examples of reversible memory loss causes. When you become unable to perform daily tasks due to memory loss, this should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Forgetting what everyday things are used for, recent events, telling the same story over and over. Struggling to complete tasks such as paying bills, taking medications, shopping, and driving are all patterns not considered a part of normal aging.
Your doctor may be the one you initially see for any concerns and can order specific testing to diagnose accurately. You may be referred to a neurologist for further care if needed.
Treatment and Early Intervention
Treatment for Alzheimer’s can help with memory symptoms and other cognitive changes. Two types of medications currently used to treat cognitive symptoms are cholinesterase inhibitors and Memantine (Namenda). Cholinesterase inhibitors work by boosting levels of cell-to-cell communication, as well as improving agitation and depression. Memantine slows the progression of symptoms with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. They can also be used in combination with each other.
Early intervention with any memory issue is critical in providing better management of overall care. Brain Matters Research offers a free memory assessment to help determine if further evaluation is needed. To schedule yours, call (561) 374-8461, or click here.