Many people in the Lehigh Valley worry about becoming forgetful. They think forgetfulness is the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease. But not all people with memory problems have Alzheimer’s.
Other causes for memory problems can include aging, medical conditions, emotional problems, mild cognitive impairment, or another type of dementia.
Age-related memory changes
Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they don’t remember information as well as they did, or they lose things like their glasses. These usually are signs of mild forgetfulness, not serious memory problems, like Alzheimer’s disease.
Watch this video: FORGETFULNESS: Normal or Not?
|Normal Aging||Alzheimer’s Disease|
|Making a bad decision once in a while||Making poor judgments and decisions a lot of the time|
|Missing a monthly payment||Problems taking care of monthly bills|
|Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later||Losing track of the date or time of year|
|Sometimes forgetting which word to use||Trouble having a conversation|
|Losing things from time to time||Misplacing things often and being unable to find them|
Memory loss related to medical conditions
Certain medical conditions can cause serious memory problems. These problems should go away once a person gets treatment. Medical conditions that may cause memory problems include:
- Tumors, blood clots, or infections in the brain
- Some thyroid, kidney, or liver disorders
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Head injury, such as a concussion from a fall or accident
- Medication side effects
- Not eating enough healthy foods, or too few vitamins and minerals in a person’s body (like vitamin B12)
A doctor should treat serious medical conditions like these as soon as possible.
Al didn’t know what was happening. He was having a hard time remembering things. He wasn’t eating or sleeping well and didn’t want to see friends. He was confused and irritable.
His wife was worried. She took him to the doctor. It turned out that Al was having a bad reaction to one of his medicines. Once his doctor changed his medicine, Al felt more like himself.
Memory loss related to emotional problems
Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, can make a person more forgetful and can be mistaken for dementia. For instance, someone who has recently retired or who is coping with the death of a spouse, relative, or friend may feel sad, lonely, worried, or bored. Trying to deal with these life changes leaves some people feeling confused or forgetful.
The confusion and forgetfulness caused by emotions usually are temporary and go away when the feelings fade. Emotional problems can be eased by supportive friends and family, but if these feelings last for more than 2 weeks, it is important to get help from a doctor or counselor. Treatment may include counseling, medication, or both. Being active and learning new skills can also help a person feel better and improve his or her memory.
Gloria was feeling sad all the time. She just wanted to sleep all day and night. She was becoming really forgetful, too. Gloria’s nephew Bob was afraid something was very wrong. He took her to see a doctor. The doctor said she had depression and needed to take medicine and see a counselor.
After 3 months, Bob could see the change in his aunt. She was eating and sleeping better. Gloria was spending more time with friends and doing volunteer work.
This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date. Content reviewed: January 24, 2018
South Mountain Memory Care focuses on high-quality, personalized care, and the safest possible environment for your loved one. South Mountain Memory Care is proud to offer our residents a wide range of resident-focused daily activity programming. Each neighborhood offers activity space for group and one-on-one activities.
The brand-new building is a stand-alone memory care community, meaning that the entire building, staff, and programs, are designed to serve residents with cognitive issues. To ensure person-centered care and attention, we have accommodations for up to 28 residents. The building is divided into two neighborhoods (wings), each offering 10 private suites and 2 semi-private suites. South Mountain Memory Care is located in the Allentown suburb of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, and is easily accessible from the Lehigh Valley, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. For more information, go to southmountainmemorycare.com.