Memory Loss: Age-Related or Dementia? (Part 2)

Age-associated memory impairment, as stated in the last blog post, is a frustrating, but possible outcome of the aging process. However, even possible age-related memory loss can be highly disconcerting for people because of the fear of developing dementia. In our last blog post, we outlined the various causes of memory loss not related to dementia, and emphasized working with your doctor in order to address and combat symptoms. Despite the fear of having dementia, early diagnosis is hugely beneficial for managing the progression and navigating medication and therapy to maintain independence.

Dementia is an umbrella term for the collective symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. The symptoms can include memory loss, changes in mood and challenges in language and thinking to the extent that they severely hinder the person’s ability to achieve their daily goals and routine. Symptoms of dementia are progressive thus will gradually worsen over time. There are a variety of diseases that cause dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Lewy Body disease, Creutzfeldt- Jakob disease, head trauma, and stroke.

Signs of Dementia

  • Memory Loss
    Memory loss or impairment is severe enough that it is hindering your daily routine.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
    Having trouble remembering how to use certain appliances, finish daily chores or navigate familiar technology.
  • Confusion
    With memory loss and brain function impairment comes confusion, for example, getting confused over where you are or when an event is happening.
  • Language
    Individual is having difficulty recalling words and phrases when speaking or writing.
  • Difficulty understanding visual and spatial relationships
    Individual is having difficulty understanding visual instructions or navigating using a map.
  • Problem Solving and Poor Judgment
    Individual is having difficulty solving problems such as misplacing items and being unable to retrace steps. Making poor judgment calls financially, socially or in their health.
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
    Individual has decreased interest or active dislike of work or social gatherings.
  • Changes in mood and personality
    Individual has increased behavioral issues or drastic change in personality.

If you or a loved one have noticed signs of memory loss, it is important to document the amount and severity of the incidents to provide detailed evidence for your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis. There are symptoms overlap in memory loss from dementia and age-associated memory impairment, so recording ongoing documentation can assist your doctor in their treatment plan. Hiring a personal care worker and keeping open communication with them can be valuable, especially since those with memory loss symptoms can be vulnerable to self-neglect and safety hazards. It is critical that personal care workers are assisting in medication reminders as well as documentation of medication and affect. Brain games and socialization can help strengthen the neurological pathways and maintain memory and brain function, so ensure that you and their care workers are scheduling regular sessions for those activities. Follow the instruction of your doctor and their recommendations for preventative care and strategies to assist your loved one with their memory loss challenges.