Senior Memory Loss: What’s Normal and What’s Not
When we meet someone new, it can be hard to memorize their name right away. We tend to be busy bodies that will misplace car keys, phone chargers, and other items of utter importance. As we age, this can occur more often. With all the commonality of this as we grow older, how can we know for sure when senior memory loss in a loved one is what’s normal, and what’s not?
Memory Loss that Comes with Age
Like any muscle in the human body, with training and use, the brain can get stronger with proper exercise. No, we don’t mean barbells or a treadmill, but through games and brain-training activities that help boost memory and the processing of information.
Here are some typical normalities of age-related memory loss:
- Forgetting the placement of regularly used objects, such as reading glasses or the television remote
- Inability to recall the name of a new acquaintance, or accidental blockage of one memory with another (for instance, a granddaughter being called the daughter’s name)
- Walking into a room and forgetting the reason why, or forgetting of a scheduled appointment
- Not remembering details of a conversation or specifics of a passage read
As we age, the memories and wisdom that originate from life experience do not get affected.
When Memory Loss Is More than Just Aging
If you are concerned that your senior loved one may be showing the signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s, you may want to seek a health provider for a true diagnosis, but here are a few symptoms that indicate something more serious:
- Mom suddenly has trouble with a recipe she’s made since your childhood
- Difficulty with location – either not remembering how to get to a very familiar place or not being sure where they are altogether
- Belongings and other objects get placed in unusual places. For instance, a wallet in a kitchen drawer
- Noticeable difference in self-hygiene or routine decision making
- Your once talkative relative who indulged in sharing stories with everyone they met, is now suddenly more reserved, quiet, and uncomfortable in a social setting. This could be a result of not being able to maintain conversation and a withdrawal from others
When these signs become more apparent and frequent, the concern that will arise for your loved one is enough to lead to consulting a doctor. An early diagnosis will not only give way to a greater chance of possible treatment to reversible memory loss or improve the quality of life for those who have a full diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Reversible Causes of Memory Loss
Aside from natural aging, there are other sources to account for that can be attributed to memory loss. Several circumstances such as stress, depression, and even vitamin deficiencies are known to be a factor as well. This is why a doctor’s visit is the crucial first step in any suspicion of memory related illness. The following are considered:
- Clinical depression: as we age, we may go through big life changes, such as the loss of a loved one or family member, moving, and retirement. Depression causes one to feel not just down, but socially uninvolved and with a harder time remembering and concentrating on what’s important.
- Lack of Vitamin B12: without this vitamin, the body loses a vital nutrient that has a considerable impact on brain health. Elderly adults have a harder time absorbing this, and if a deficiency is present it could be treated with regular injections.
- Thyroid issues: Medication can reverse an imbalance in metabolism. Having it ramped up can cause one to feel confused, and if too slow, it can even be a cause of depression and fatigue. Medication is a resulting treatment.
- Medication side effects: Sometimes a prescribed solution for an existing medical condition can be a risk factor for associated memory loss. Sleeping pills, antihistamines, blood pressure and arthritis medication, muscle relaxants, anticholinergic drugs for urinary incontinence and gastrointestinal discomfort, antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and even painkillers can be the associated cause. Like vitamin B12, older adults have a harder time absorbing medication into the body.
When It’s More Than Just Age and Outside Factors
If you are afraid of an evident diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s understandable. Memory loss is a difficult journey for everyone involved, and not just the loved one affected. You want to provide the best care and quality of life for them, while also being present and there for them.
If a doctor does file a diagnosis for Alzheimer’s or dementia and you are seeking a memory care community that will best fit your loved one’s needs, then look no further than the Kensington.
At The Kensington in Sierra Madre, we are rooted with a deep promise to treat and care for every resident like a family member. With state-of-the-art therapies, daily social activities, a nutrient-rich and tasty dining menu, and expert staff, your loved one will be surrounded by engaging, helpful, and expert staff.
Not only will they be safe and receiving the care to suit their needs, we invite visitors to accompany their loved one at any time. The Kensington vows to be your partner in memory care.
Additional Recommended Reading:
- Key Questions to Ask a Memory Care Community
- 10 Seasonal Activities Seniors Will Love
- Preserving Your Loved One’s Memories
- How Assisted Living Can Keep Your Loved One Safe
- Why Dental Health Is Crucial For Seniors
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What Seniors Need to Know