Memory Loss: When to Ask For Help

The following types of memory loss are normal among older adults: occasionally forgetting where you left your keys or glasses, forgetting an appointment, walking into a room and forgetting why you entered or not being able to retrieve information you have on the tip of your tongue. These memory lapses have little impact on your daily performance and often require no assistance.

So when should I ask for help?

If you are having difficulties performing simple tasks such as: paying bills, forgetting how to do things you have done many times, getting lost or disoriented (even in familiar places) having trouble following simple directions, or making simple decisions – you need help.

There are many reasons older adults have memory issues. Some are reversible and some are not. Hormones and proteins that protect and repair brain cells and stimulate neural growth also decline with age. Older people can experience decreased blood flow to the brain, which could impair memory and lead to changes in cognitive skills. Reversible causes can include: stress, depression, vitamin deficiencies, side effects of medications, Thyroid problems, dehydration, poor diet, insufficient sleep, lack of physical activities and being alone most of the time as well as smoking and alcohol abuse.

If your memory loss is persistent, disabling, disrupts your work, hobbies, social activities, and family relationships – you should ask for help. Schedule an appointment immediately with your primary physician for examination. Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms, eliminate reversible causes of memory loss, lessen decline in vascular dementia or improve quality of life in Alzheimer or other types of dementia.

Aging well depends on various factors, such as genes, environment, and lifestyle. Healthy lifestyle choices may help you maintain a healthy body and brain. Keep your memory sharp by doing mentally stimulating activities. Playing games, learning new things, and attending social activities may help. These types of activities tend to help make people feel happier and healthier.

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Theresa Poole, LPN.  Theresa Poole is the Director of Community Relations with BrightStar Care Fort Collins/Loveland and may be reached at 970-667-7778 or by email at Theresa.Poole@brightstarcare.com