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What is Age-related Memory Loss?

The elderly have a tendency to respond more slowly – in their movement, reflexes, action and communication. What is most commonly observable among them is a frequent inability to recollect information when asked about something. The information may either be recalled later on or sometimes never at all. As we age, there are certain physiological changes that the body undergoes, one among them being slowing down of mental processes. More often than not, people mistakenly consider this slowing as age-related memory loss. Problems in the elderly related to memory loss may be a simple slowing down of cognitive processes, mild cognitive impairment or dementia (reduced memory and thinking ability that affect daily activities).

What are its main signs and symptoms?

There is a range of symptoms that may be observed depending upon the individual and the severity of the problem.

  • Delayed or partial recalling of information.
  • Forgetting commonly used words while speaking.
  • Confusing commonly used words.
  • Discussing the same topics or asking the same questions over and over.
  • Misplacing things.
  • Mistaking one person for another.
  • Taking long to complete routine tasks or follow familiar instructions.
  • Being unable to find the way even in familiar surroundings.

What are the main causes?

Most conditions of age-related memory loss are simply the result of a slowing cerebral function, and may involve:

  • Deterioration of the hippocampus (a small organ located in the brain that regulates emotions and long-term memory)..
  • Hormonal changes.
  • Lowered flow of blood to the brain.

However, some other factors may also play a role, such as:

  • Alcoholism.
  • Brain disease.
  • Deficiency of vitamin B12.
  • Thyroid disorders.
  • Emotional disturbances, such as depression or stress.
  • Injuries to the head.
  • Some medications that can cause disorientation or confusion, such as sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, medicines for controlling blood pressure and others.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

A medical consultation is important to diagnose the problem. These medical visits are are often inclusive of a series of questions surrounding medical history, sleep patterns, emotional state and family life. Details involving episodes of forgetting, the onset of memory loss and the nature of forgetfulness may be asked. In some cases, the opinion of a neuropsychologist may be sought.

This is a condition, which cannot be treated or reversed in most cases. The key lies in managing the condition and individual, and finding the best possible care.

Most elderly people sense their mental inadequacies, and it can be a very stressful and embarrassing experience, especially for those who have led fulfilling lives. The need to be dependent and inability to function independently can be difficult. Hence, what these individuals need is:

  • Family support and care.
  • A plan for sustained care.
  • Treatment for any health conditions or other complications.
  • Opportunity to socialise.
  • Balanced diet and adequate sleep.
  • Simple brain-stimulating activities to prevent worsening of the symptoms, such as: 
    • Puzzles and crosswords. 
    • Reading magazines. 
    • Taking up mentally challenging activities.

Do you or anyone in your family have this disease? Please do a survey and help others

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