Forgetfulness Doesn’t Always Indicate Alzheimer’s Disease

'Do you sometimes enter a room and then fail to remember your reason for going there? Have you put down your keys or eye glasses and forgotten where you left them? Have you walked away from the kitchen stove without remembering to turn off the oven? It’s very likely that you’ve experienced these annoying episodes or ones similar to them. However, such occurrences are not necessarily associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Aging itself is accompanied by brain changes. These changes may result in your finding it more difficult to recall names or to learn new skills. This is normal and not a cause for concern. Such experiences are not caused by serious memory problems like those associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms that are indicative of Alzheimer’s disease include the loss of executive function, such as the inability to write checks or handle financial responsibilities; the inability to exercise judgment, such as wearing warm clothes when it’s cold outside; difficulty remembering the date or time of year; or problems carrying on a conversation. When dementia is a true concern, people may misplace various items; however, they may be unable to find or retrieve them. Sometimes symptoms that appear to indicate dementia actually result from medical conditions, such as thyroid or kidney disorders, brain injuries, lack of adequate nutrition, or even medication interactions. Stress anxiety and depression can contribute to confusion and/or forgetfulness as well.

There are no treatments that can prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease. However, you can develop habits that will reduce the possibility of developing dementia. It’s important to maintain a healthy body weight, eat a well-balanced diet, and engage in frequent exercise. It’s also important to continue to hone your cognitive skills by participating in activities that require thought and concentration, such as playing bridge or completing crossword puzzles, or learning new skills such as knitting or woodworking.

If you have concerns related to your own cognitive function or that of a family member or loved one, contact your provider to determine whether those concerns are legitimate or whether it’s possible that lifestyle changes can improve the worrisome symptoms.

Ithaca Primary Care

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