As a person grows old, he/she complains about forgetfulness. All these tend to happen due to biological changes that disrupt brain functioning due to ageing.
Common Symptoms Of Memory Loss
- He/she gets perplexed with the names, people, and places.
- Repeating the same question again and again or lost track in conversation
- Inability to solve problems and lost their way while travelling
- Lost their already learnt skills like dressing, grooming, toilet needs, driving etc.
- Lack of planning, organizing skills, poor judgement and inappropriate behaviour
Difficulty To Accomplish Daily Task
It is often caused when Hippocampus and its memory circuit (Paper circuit) deteriorates with aging. It may happen after stroke or reduced blood supply to strategic areas of brain and some neurodegenerative disorders.
Hence its of vital importance to know and differentiate memory disturbances due to normal ageing or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and full-blown dementia.
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 have “on the tip of your tongue.”
Mild Cognitive Impairment And Dementia:
Memory impairment (impaired ability to learn new information or to recall previously learned information)
One (or more) of the following cognitive disturbances: Aphasia (language disturbance) apraxia (impaired ability to carry out learnt 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)
The above said disturbances should have a progressive course which impairs activities of daily living (ADL) and after excluding reversible causes of dementia.
If the cognitive disturbances are minimal which does not impair activities of daily living it may be diagnosed as minimal or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) on the other hand if the symptoms are severe and affects daily living it will qualify as dementia criteria
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate stage between normal age-related cognitive changes and the more serious symptoms that indicate dementia. 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 enough or sufficiently noticeable to concern you or a family member. Your doctor can assess your personal risk factors, evaluate your symptoms, eliminate reversible causes of memory loss, and help you obtain appropriate care. Chances are the doctor will also ask you or your partner to keep track of your symptoms and check back in a few months. If your memory problem needs more evaluation, your doctor may send you to a neuropsychologist or blood test and imaging.
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.
How To Prevent Or Delay Dementia?
Stay social, play or learn different mental skills or games, try to do different hobbies after 40 years of age to deviate from routine work, managing stress, Good physical activities, proper balanced diet, adequate sleep, Quit smoking & alcohol.
Early diagnosis can treat reversible causes of memory loss, lessen decline in vascular dementia, or improve the quality of life in Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.
Dr SATHISH KUMAR V Senior Consultant, Neurophysician & Stroke Neurology, Gleneagles Global Health City.