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What Causes Memory Loss and Forgetfulness?

Memory loss and forgetfulness occur as we age, but when should memory changes concern you? How can you tell the difference between the ordinary absentmindedness of aging and the memory loss of Alzheimer’s disease?

More than 5 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2020. Eighty percent are age 75 or older, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

What is the Difference Between Forgetfulness and Memory Loss?

It’s normal as we age to occasionally forget which day it is, miss a monthly bill payment or misplace things every once in a while. Harvard Medical School reports that healthy people can experience memory distortion at any age.

When the brain forgets some memories over time it is called transience. Transience and absentmindedness are the two conditions that are normal in the aging process. Memory does have a use-it-or-lose-it component. Those memories that are most often remembered and used frequently are the least likely memories to be forgotten.

It is not typical to make poor judgements and decisions frequently, consistently have trouble paying monthly bills, lose track of the time of year, or have issues in conversing – all of which could be the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Experiencing any of these symptoms is a cause for concern and may mean it’s time to get a baseline assessment to be used in the future for comparison.

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s can get worse over time. Eventually, people may have trouble speaking, reading, and accomplishing tasks like brushing their teeth. All of this can lead to anxiety, depression or aggression.

What Contributes to Memory Loss?

There are numerous conditions that can affect your thinking and memory. More common things that can cause memory loss include:

  • Aging
  • Medications
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug use
  • Tobacco
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Medical conditions
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Head injuries
  • Stroke

Short-term memory loss is one of the beginning symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Those with Alzheimer’s may have changes in the brain that contribute to the disease: protein fragments and beta-amyloid plaque buildup. Sudden loss of memory and disorientation are reason to visit your doctor.

How Do You Cure Forgetfulness

Depending upon the cause of the memory loss, it can be improved or reversible with treatment. An example of this is the memory loss which can occur with certain medications, or with a large consumption of alcohol. A physician can advise you about the cause and best treatment.

There is no cure for most conditions that cause cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s, but it’s helpful to know the key symptoms and react early enough to seek medical care before memory loss worsens. With early detection, treatments can be explored that could offer some type of relief and bring a greater level of independence to life.

If you need advice about memory loss, consult with your doctor. In the meantime, if you would like to provide a higher level of care for someone you love with memory loss or Alzheimer’s, we can schedule a private consultation to give you more information about our Memory Care Community in Prairie Village, Kansas. Call us at 913-490-7100.