Memory loss commonly affects all of us as we age. Normal cognitive decline associated with aging consists primarily of mild changes in memory and the rate of information processing, which are not progressive and do not affect our daily functions.
Memory loss becomes a concern when it is associated with difficulty in one or more of the following:
Learning and retaining new information e.g., trouble remembering events; Handling complex tasks e.g., balancing checkbooks; Reasoning e.g., unable to cope with unexpected events; Spatial ability and orientation e.g., getting lost in familiar places; Language e.g., word finding; Behavior disturbances, such as wandering at night.
Please seek medical and neurological evaluation if you or your loved ones begin to have these mentioned difficulties associated with memory loss. A thorough evaluation may be needed to rule out conditions such as dementia. The above symptoms may start out very mild and then progressively worsen over a course of months or years. There are different kinds of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common type, followed by dementia due to lack of blood flow to the brain (vascular) and movement disorder (Parkinson’s disease).
Treatment for dementia depends on the type. There are medications to slow down memory loss and cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s dementia. For vascular type, blood pressure and cholesterol need to be well controlled to minimize damage to the brain.
To keep the brain healthy, one needs to engage in regular social interaction with others and regular physical and mental activity, the latter through reading or doing puzzles.
Remember this: Keep the brain healthy by keeping it busy.