The occasional lapse in memory isn’t uncommon. After all, stress and lack of sleep can make it harder to recall facts or misplace keys, but when should you worry about memory problems? Many older adults may worry about their cognitive health, so knowing what’s normal and what may be a sign of a bigger issue is important.
Here at Beverly Hills Headache Institute, my team and I specialize in diagnosing and treating both degenerative and non-degenerative dementia, but before we can explore the right protocol for you or your loved one, you need to know if you’re dealing with normal memory problems or early dementia.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s normal and what’s not.
Regardless of age, some underlying factors can impact your memory. Depression, anxiety, chronic stress, thyroid problems, side effects of medication, lack of sleep, and vitamin deficiencies can all contribute to difficulty concentrating or memory issues. Correcting the underlying issues (such as a thyroid problem) often also resolves memory issues.
As you age, it’s normal for some neurons to stop working or to lose connections. Neurogenesis, the formation of new neurons, slows down as you age. However, if you lose neuron connections at a greater-than-average rate, you’re at risk for developing a mild cognitive impairment, which increases your risk of developing dementia. Signs of mild cognitive impairment include increasing forgetfulness, missed social events, and difficulty following conversations or movie plots.
Dementia isn’t a natural part of aging. Rather, it’s an umbrella term for conditions that cause memory loss. It can also cause cognitive issues with language and problem-solving. Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia are three types of dementia, but regardless of which type you have, dementia makes it hard to think, learn, and reason. Dementia is more than just missing an event on your calendar. Dementia can greatly impact your quality of life and, in some cases, your safety.
Occasionally misplacing items (keys, phone, etc.) is normal and can happen at any age; however, if the frequency of misplaced items increases, you may wonder if your loved one is dealing with early dementia.
Misplacing items or forgetting facts are just two of the many signs of dementia. Other early signs of dementia include:
You don’t have to wait for these symptoms to intensify before seeking help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions. After conducting diagnostic, physical, and cognitive exams, I create a personalized treatment plan to help your loved one.
Even if your loved one doesn’t have dementia, they can support their cognition with stimulating activities (such as puzzles and exercise), practicing good sleep hygiene, and eating brain-healthy foods.
If your loved one has dementia, rest assured that my team is here for you every step of the way. Depending on which type of dementia your loved one has, the potential treatments may include:
When caring for a loved one, it’s only natural to worry about their cognitive health, especially if you spot these early warning signs. Worrying about your loved one can be overwhelming, but I want you to know that, with the right treatment, we can help slow the progression of dementia and help manage symptoms.
If you’d like to schedule a visit, please call my Beverly Hills, California, office to get started. You can also use my online booking form to request an appointment.