Are you starting to wonder about your memory? Do you sometimes forget where you put things like your keys? Do you think that you might have Alzheimer’s Disease?
Memory loss can range from mild to severe. It can take many forms. The most severe form is dementia. These health facts will explain some of the causes of memory loss and suggest ways to prevent and cope with memory changes.
Normal aging and memory
As we age, we may find that it takes longer to learn new things, think of names and places, or find items we use all the time. Actions to help improve our memory include staying active, eating right, spending time with others, and taking part in hobbies that we enjoy.
Memory problems are those that reduce a person’s ability to carry out normal daily chores. It may become harder to drive, shop, or handle money. Signs of memory problems can include:
- Getting lost going to places you have been to many times
- Having trouble with usual daily chores
- Getting confused about time, people, places, or events
- Forgetting to bathe, eat, or do your daily tasks
You should see your health care provider if you or a loved one are having any of these problems. A physical exam may provide answers. Treatment will depend on the cause of the problem. Your health care provider may also refer you for testing at a memory clinic.
Causes of Memory Problems
Memory problems are not always due to Alzheimer’s Dementia. Memory loss can also be caused by:
- Injury or disease.
- Poor diet or not enough fluids in the body.
- Alcohol abuse.
- Thyroid problems.
Tips for Coping with Memory Problems
- Visit your doctor and follow his advice.
- Use aids to help with memory.
- Use big calendars.
- Make daily lists of chores.
- Write notes to yourself.
- Print out steps for use of household items.
- Keep items you use often in the same place.
- Use pill boxes and write down the times you take your medicines. Keep this list with your medicines.
Healthy Body, Healthy Brain
You can keep your brain healthy by keeping your body healthy. Some steps you can take include:
- Stay active.
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, fish, and other lean proteins. Avoid too much salt, fat and sugar.
- Get enough rest.
- Avoid excess alcohol.
- Reduce stress in your life.
- Get regular check-ups.
- Keep your brain active. Make time for hobbies
- Meet new people. Connect with family or friends. Volunteer.
Your Healthcare Team Can Help
Contact your health care team if you think you are having a problem with your memory. Let the team help you find the cause and ways to treat, prevent, or cope with it.
National Institutes of Health. (2008). AgePage. Forgetfulness: knowing when to ask for help. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute on Aging.
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Memory Loss. Retrieved from http://apps.uwhealth.org/health/hie/1/003257.htm
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institute on
Aging. (2007). Understanding memory loss. (NIH Publication No. 06-5442). Silver Spring, MD: National Institutes of Health.
Yevchak, A.M., Loeb, S.J., & Fick, D.M. (2008). Promoting cognitive health and vitality: A review of clinical implications. Geriatric Nursing, 29(5), 302 – 310.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 05/28/2010
Copyright © 05/28/2010 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6977
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