If you or a loved one is experiencing memory loss, you know firsthand the psychological and emotional distress it can cause. What’s more? With so many aging adults struggling with memory, it can be hard to know what’s normal and what’s not.
More than 50 million people worldwide currently suffer from dementia, and over the next 30 years, the World Health Organization expects that number to double. But while age is the highest risk factor for developing memory problems and dementia, there are ways to prevent or delay the conditions.
At Prima Medicine, with offices in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, our highly skilled providers are here to help. We provide accurate diagnoses and customized treatment plans for patients struggling with memory loss.
To help you better understand memory loss and what’s normal, we’ve put together this informative guide.
What is memory loss?
Memory is your ability to recall or reproduce what you’ve learned and retained. Being able to remember is important, as it helps us feel connected to our family, friends, and community, and it helps us make meaning of our past.
“Memory loss” applies to many possible conditions. These conditions can all affect your ability to remember simple things, such as names and faces or whether you’ve already salted your food. It can also encompass more significant things, such as knowing where you are and remembering to shower or brush your teeth.
What causes memory loss?
The term “memory loss” applies to a wide range of conditions, and there are many possible causes. Temporary memory loss can be caused by stress, dehydration, poor diet or malnutrition, reactions to medications, hormonal imbalances, and illnesses with a high fever.
Other types of memory loss can be more permanent. Dementia, which is an overall term for diseases that are characterized by memory decline — such as Alzheimer’s disease — is what most people think of when considering permanent memory loss. However, other issues, such as trauma or mental health disorders, can also cause permanent memory loss.
It’s important to receive an accurate diagnosis for the cause of your memory loss to ensure you get the right treatment for your condition.
How much memory loss is normal with aging?
Some changes with memory are a normal part of the aging process. Your brain ages along with the rest of your body, and it can take longer to recall new information, learn new information, and remember events from the past.
Some examples of normal, age-related memory loss include:
- Simple forgetfulness, such as not recalling where you put down your keys or phone
- Being slow to remember names, dates, or events
- Being slow to remember how to perform detailed tasks
- Trouble recalling new information or taking longer to learn new things
- Some trouble with language, such as mixing up syntax in conversation or not recalling certain words
- Trouble multitasking
- Slower reaction times
How much memory loss is not normal with aging?
If your memory problems begin to interfere with your daily life and activities, it’s time to seek help. For example, while it’s normal to forget where you put your car keys, it’s not normal to forget what those car keys are used for.
Some signs that it’s time to talk to your doctor about your memory loss include:
- Forgetting recent events
- Forgetting the names of family members or close friends
- Frequently forgetting appointments or scheduled events
- Forgetting conversations or repeating the same questions or stories
- Increased difficulty with language, such as having difficulty understanding written or spoken words
- Struggling to complete complex tasks, such as paying bills
- Difficulty following directions
- Trouble staying focused
- Increasing reliance on written reminders
Is there help for memory loss?
Treatment for memory loss depends on the nature of your condition and its root cause. For example, if your memory loss is related to a mental health condition, such as depression, better management could help alleviate your memory loss.
For patients in the early stages of dementia, simple lifestyle changes may help prevent the disease’s progress. In fact, recent research indicates that one-third of dementia cases could be prevented through lifestyle. Medications are also available to help treat and slow its development.
If you or a loved one is experiencing memory loss, don’t wait to speak to a specialist. The team at Prima Medicine provides compassionate and effective care as well as customized treatment plans. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Prima Medicine today. You can also schedule a telehealth appointment through the online patient portal.