It may happen after a stroke or reduced blood supply to strategic areas of the brain and some neurodegenerative disorders. It is of vital importance to know and differentiate between memory disturbances due to normal ageing or Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and full blown dementia.
- Getting perplexed with names, people, and places
- Repeating the same question again and again or losing track of conversation
- Inability to solve problems and losing their way while travelling
- Losing already learnt skills like dressing, grooming, toilet needs, driving, etc
- Lack of planning, organizing skills, poor judgement and inappropriate behaviour
- Difficulty to accomplish daily tasks
Reversible Causes Of Dementia
- Depression, B12 vitamin deficiency, thyroid disorders, neuro infections, head injury, drug-induced memory disorder, lifestyle-related like lack of sleep, stress and attention-deficit disorders
The following types of memory lapses are normal among older adults and generally are not considered warning signs of dementia:
- Occasionally forgetting where you left things you use regularly, such as glasses or keys.
- Forgetting names of acquaintances or blocking one memory with a similar one, such as calling a grandson by your son’s name.
- Occasionally forgetting an appointment or walking into a room and forgetting why you entered.
- Becoming easily distracted or having trouble remembering what you’ve just read, or the details of a conversation.
- Not quite being able to retrieve information you had “on the tip of your tongue”
If one or more of the below disturbances–after excluding reversible causes of dementia–have a progressive course which impairs activities of daily living (ADL), then it qualifies as dementia:
- Memory impairment (impaired ability to learn new information or to recall previously learned information)
- Aphasia (language disturbance)
- Apraxia (impaired ability to carry out practiced motor activities despite intact motor function)
- Agnosia (failure to recognize or identify objects despite intact sensory function)
- Disturbance in executive functioning (i.e., planning, organizing, sequencing, abstracting)
If the cognitive disturbances are minimal and do not impair ADL it may be diagnosed as MCI. On the other hand, if the symptoms are severe and affects daily living it will qualify as sementia. MCI is an intermediate stage between normal age-related cognitive changes and more serious symptoms that indicate sementia. MCI can involve problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes, but the line between MCI and normal memory problems is not always a clear one.
When to see a doctor for memory loss
It’s time to consult a doctor when memory lapses become frequent or sufficiently noticeable to concern the patient or a family member. A doctor can assess personal risk factors, evaluate symptoms, eliminate reversible causes of memory loss, and help obtain appropriate care. Chances are the doctor will also ask the patient or a family member to keep track of symptoms and check back in a few months. If the memory problem needs more evaluation, the doctor may send the elderly to a neuropsychologist or assign blood tests and imaging tests.
Prevent, delay dementia
Be socially active, play or learn different mental skills or games, try to cultivate hobbies after 40 years to deviate from routine work, manage stress, engage in physical activities, sustain a proper balanced diet, have adequate sleep, quit smoking and alcohol.
Early diagnosis can treat reversible causes of memory loss, slow decline in Vascular dementia, or improve the quality of life in alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.