Many people have fears about a decline in their memory as they get older, often confusing their symptoms for serious diseases, like Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. This condition is a progressive brain disorder that affects your thoughts, language, memory, and other functions and can ultimately lead to incapacitation and death.
However, experienced neurosurgeon, Christopher Duma, MD, FACS, cautions people about jumping to conclusions about their symptoms without a proper diagnosis.
How other health factors affect your memory
Nearly everyone experiences issues with memory in all phases of life. Busy routines, stress, and even emotional issues can make it easier to be forgetful.
As you get older, your body functions aren’t always as efficient as they once were, including your brain. Your body will go through a number of changes as part of the natural aging process, some of which will affect your memory.
You may notice you have more difficulty remembering names of people you just met or retain details about new things you’ve just learned. Often, these are normal side effects of the natural aging process.
There are also a host of underlying medical conditions that can interfere with your memory. Some of the most common conditions include:
- Blood clots
- Thyroid disorder
- Kidney dysfunction
- Nutritional deficiencies
You may also be more prone to memory issues or loss as you get older and your risk for falls increases. Many people who experience frequent falls may end up with a concussion or other type of head injury that interferes with their cognitive abilities and memory.
Because all of these factors are serious medical conditions in themselves, it’s vital that you seek an evaluation and treatment from your primary care provider as soon as possible. Additionally, if you’re already being treated for underlying health issues, medications used in your therapy may be contributing to your memory problems.
When symptoms may be warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease
There is sometimes a fine line between symptoms of age-related memory loss and warning signs of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Duma recommends that you schedule an evaluation at his office if you experience noticeable changes in your usual behaviors and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as:
- Difficulty remembering the year
- Frequently lacking good judgment
- Struggling to have a conversation
- Constantly losing or misplacing items
With Alzheimer’s disease, it may also become overwhelming for you to keep up with your usual routine and responsibilities, such as paying bills on time, showing up for appointments, or not recognizing people you know.
A diagnostic evaluation to confirm Alzheimer’s in the earliest stages is important for better managing your symptoms and prolonging a high quality of life. Treatment with medications can be effective in slowing down the progression of the disease and helping you control some of the related behavioral symptoms, so you can remain independent for as long as possible.
Learn more about diagnostic and treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease by calling Dr. Duma’s office or by requesting an appointment online today.