Age-related Memory Loss
When do you start to notice memory loss? Or, more importantly, when does it become an issue? We all forget things from time to time, like misplacing keys, wallets and mobile phones, but when we’re young we don’t tend to think much of it. It might be that, as an older person, you are forgetting just as frequently, but as the anxiety of memory-loss creeps in, you notice these occurrences more. It is true, however, that memory-loss does occur more frequently the older you get.
There are important differences between occasional forgetfulness associated with ageing, and forgetfulness as a symptom of a more serious cognitive issue. There are however, some simple steps you we can all take to keep brain connections healthy:
- Regular exercise (such as local walks, and shopping on foot where you can)
- Healthy diet full of antioxidant rich foods such as fresh fruit and veg and whole-grains.
- All that exercise is likely to be wearing, so ample sleep is crucial. Your brain needs time to flush itself.
- Quit smoking, or at least consider healthier alternatives, such as e-cigarettes and join a programme.
- Taking up a hobby, can not only keep you physically active, but also mentally. If Chess is too much of a stretch, then perhaps photography, or fossil hunting.
- Keep up with friends, or join a group and make new friends.
Memory loss and age
Most of the time forgetfulness is not a cause for concern, and whilst forgetfulness doesn’t have an underlying medical reason, it is recognised as ‘age associated’ and perfectly normal. Then there are much more serious types of ‘forgetfulness’ which is more than just being forgetful. Diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and other forms for dementia are totally different. It’s important to remember that “dementia” is an umbrella term that describes a number symptoms that are linked to memory loss that are severe enough to require support in daily life.
Such symptoms include:
- Memory loss that is noticed by others and raised as a concern.
- Trouble finding words to articulate your thoughts.
- Difficulty finding solutions to simple problems.
- Inability to plan and organise efficiently.
- Problems with co-ordination.
The difficulty people have is, in determining what is a harmless forgetfulness and what is a symptom of dementia. The difficulty in detecting it is compounded by the fact that dementia is often a gradual process, meaning you get used to what you thought was just mild forgetfulness. If you’ve ever had an elderly relative that you see only a few times a year, then you would notice it.
What to do when you suspect someone has dementia
If you suspect someone you know is showing signs of dementia, there are a few steps you can take.
- Encourage them to see a GP as soon as possible
Doctors will be able to diagnose dementia by ruling out other possible causes, such as temporary sicknesses. There will be a series of assessments and tests that can be carried out, which will reveal if there are other underlying issues.
- Talk to them
It’s never easy to approach someone to ask whether they feel they might be experiencing severe memory loss, but they themselves may have noticed and are not sure how to reach out. By reaching out to them first you can at least open the door for communication.
If you suspect someone to be living with undiagnosed dementia, then always get professional advice.
Amba is an in-home communication and organisation device, designed to assist older people living independently. To see how and learn more about the benefits, click here
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