For the aging, occasional forgetfulness is a natural part of life but serious struggles with memory loss can be a sign of something worse. Senior editor for Caring.com, Paula Spencer Scott, reported on eight symptoms of memory loss that are not associated with Alzheimer’s. Here is the list:
- Chronic Stress: When a moment of fight or flight happens your mind and body respond to give it the extra alertness you need be safe. If, however, your life is full of too much anxiety this emergency system becomes overloaded and everyday brain functions can be compromised.
- Depression: Depression can mean double trouble. A depressed person often dwells on sad events, taking energy away from enjoying moments now, while low serotonin levels steal the ability to concentrate. These “symptoms” make it difficult to store short term memories. Scott warns that, “Three groups are especially vulnerable to depression: older adults, caregivers, and people with dementia.”
- Medications: Always read the indications on a prescription to understand how it might affect your body. Medications that include statins, while helping with serious health issues, may also affect memory. Also check drug interactions if you take more than one.
- Thyroid Issues: Sometimes the first sign of thyroid problems are memory issues or other cognitive dysfunctions.
- Serious Female Hormones: Pregnancy or menopause in women means changing estrogen levels which affects other chemicals in the brain. These changes can contribute to lapses in memory.
- Heavy Drinking: Excessive drinking damages the liver and kidneys, while brain functions including “higher intellectual functions” and memory are compromised. What many seniors may not realize is alcohol affects the body more quickly as we age. “Two or three beers for a 70-year-old have the same effect as four or five beers did at age 50,” Scott says.
- Head Injury/Concussion: One of the most common issues with aging is dealing with falls, and a common issue with falling is a banged up head. Sometimes a head injury is severe enough to result in memory loss.
- Aging: Occasional forgetfulness is a normal part of a long life journey.
If you provide senior care for someone, are aging yourself and are seeing a decline in memory, it might be time to have an evaluation. Remember there are a number of reasons for memory loss and not to react until an explanation and treatment plan has been provided by a doctor.