As we grow older, we shouldn’t be surprised to experience some degree of memory loss. Normal age-related memory issues include occasionally forgetting where we put something, a name of an acquaintance, an appointment and/or what we’re preparing to say.
Though these occurrences may be frustrating, they’re a relatively normal part of aging. With simple adaptability, they can be managed and don’t have to disrupt our daily life. For example, in senior living, we can more often write ourselves reminders, make lists and check our calendars.
These small bouts of forgetfulness, however, are quite different from the disabling incidents that accompany dementia, a disease of the brain. The most common types of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and mixed dementia.
The Mayo Clinic lists symptoms of dementia as “impairment in memory, reasoning, judgment, language and other thinking skills.” Additional signs include inappropriate behavior, loss of communication skills, disorientation and movement problems. Dementia threatens our intellectual ability to perform routine tasks and interact with people.
Mild cognitive impairment
Between occasional forgetting and dementia is the middle ground of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This generally involves frequently misplacing items, forgetting information and having difficulty following conversations.
Assessing memory loss
To help measure the degree of a senior’s cognitive impairment, HelpGuide, a resource on mental health and well-being, has prepared a 21-question assessment to be completed by a family member or friend. The questionnaire shouldn’t be used for diagnosis, but rather to help determine if further assessment by a physician is needed. Of course, should you become concerned about a family member’s profound changes in memory at any point, schedule an appointment with a physician.
The cause of memory loss may not be dementia. Other causes, mostly treatable, are depression, vitamin B-12 deficiency, hypothyroidism, alcohol abuse, dehydration, minor head injury, brain tumor and medications.
Connections Memory Support Services
At Country Meadows, we realize that memory loss can be unsettling and even debilitating for some seniors. That’s why we developed our Connections Memory Support Services, which has cared for more than 10,000 people over the last 20 years. Our Connections service is available in our personal care and assisted living homes, skilled nursing centers and independent living communities.