Symptoms of Forgetfulness and Memory Loss in the Elderly

Symptoms of Forgetfulness and Memory Loss in the Elderly

While people may joke that “memory is the first thing to go” as they age, there is quite a bit of truth in that statement. Memory often becomes increasingly unreliable in old age, with people forgetting key details of their life, or what they had for breakfast that morning. One of the signs of impending senility is people tend to remember things that happened to them decades ago in great detail. And yet, at the same time, they forget what they did or where they were just hours before.

Poor memory might be an elderly stereotype, there is still some truth in that statement when it comes to degrading short term memory. Senility in its general sense denotes impaired cognitive function due to aging and no reason for alarm because of its slow advance. As dementia, especially as associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, it destroys memory and brings about other life-threatening conditions.

Potential Problems With Short-Term Memory Loss in the Elderly

Among the typical challenges in caring for the elderly is dealing with fading and erratic memory. They may become confused in familiar places, including their own homes, or forget how to do things they’ve been doing all their lives. A leisurely drive in familiar territory may become an adventure in trying to find their way back home. It starts with brief lapses in memory, forgetting the name of friends and family or where you put those darn keys or cell phone on a daily basis. It may mean the end of living independently due to the dangers of these memory lapses. Forgetting to turn off the water drawn for a bath or the gas jets under the frying pan may result in damage, injury or death. Among the most common are health complications from prescription drugs because you forgot what pills you’ve taken and when to take them next.

When to Worry about Forgetfulness

When forgetfulness is a sign of something more severe, there are steps you can take to help slow the progression and improve their quality of life, but there is sadly no cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s. The stress of not being able to remember things discourages social interaction and conversation which only worsens the condition.

Forgetfulness is often a common complaint at the far end of the aging process, but there are some things you might watch for when conversing with the elderly under your care:

  • Repeating phrases and observations during the course of the conversation.
  • Forgetting movie and book titles watched or read in the previous 24-48 hours
  • Not recognizing landmarks near your home that you have passed recently and regularly
  • Having trouble thinking of the right word to use
  • Asking the same questions over and over again

What Age-Related Memory Loss Is Normal?

Most adults, whatever their age, have had the experience of walking into a room and forgetting why they came there. While some short-term forgetfulness is common, if this happens routinely, it may be a sign of a bigger problem. While some of the preceding examples may not be experienced by every elderly person with sound brain and body health. The reasons for a flawed or sound memory in one’s later years can be traced to genetics, lifestyle or activities like reading or memorizing regularly. Some age-related memory loss is normal, and we all forget something once in a while. However, knowing when to consult a doctor and get a more thorough diagnosis can help spot it quickly and get your loved one the help they need to live a fuller life.

When Should You Call a Doctor?

Occasional forgetfulness can be annoying for both those experiencing it and people dealing with them, but it is no reason to panic. However, if a loved one or someone for whom you provide care exhibits signs of unnatural memory loss, you should see that they get to a doctor. If you discern any such symptoms or signs as a caregiver, do not hesitate to take them to the doctor for immediate care and testing. It could be the key to living longer, healthier and happier.

Some signs that you’re dealing with something more serious than average old-age memory loss includes:

  • Increasing confusion and disorientation
  • Obsessive, repetitive or impulsive behavior
  • Delusions or feeling exceedingly paranoid
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Frequent mood swings, depression or anxiety
  • Difficulty with spatial tasks

What Causes Age-Related Memory Loss?

The brain changes as you age. Like a well-maintained engine, it may perform admirably. If it sputters along at times, some irreplaceable parts are wearing out. As long as it performs well enough to do its job, you may not experience a noticeable dip in your quality of life. The slowdown of mental processes may not necessarily include significant memory loss.

While medication can help treat specific side effects and help slow down the effects of age-related memory loss, there are some steps you can take to help improve your overall quality of life and give your brain a better chance of avoiding developing these conditions. A healthy lifestyle, including diet, exercise, and active brain activity, is the best thing you can do for your brain and memory.

Trust Salerno Medical Associates With Your Memory Loss Treatments

Knowing where you can turn to for professional, compassionate, and experienced medical advice can help you better diagnose and treat the underlying conditions associated with age-related memory loss. Since 2001, Dr. Alexander Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues, including alcohol addiction. Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey, under Dr. Alexander Salerno focused on urban communities, uses outreach to educate people about both medical and behavioral health.

For the communities in and around East Orange, NJ, the Nirvana Healthcare Network has helped countless patients with their issues. Our practices include Salerno Media Associates, Metropolitan Medical Group, Roseville Medical Society, and North Ward Medical Arts. Reach out to one of our practices and schedule your next appointment today.