Many people equate memory slips and Alzheimer’s disease with old age, and yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Granted, as we age, memories tend to fade and we often forget details, but Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease; a condition that continues to steadily worsen until it takes its victim’s life. While people are often quick to jump to conclusions, memory loss does not always mean that a person is a victim of Alzheimer’s disease.
There are lots of people who experience lapses in their memory; some of them being serious, while others are not. Those who suffer from serious changes in their personality, memory, and/or behavior may be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or any other number of forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s is just one of many forms of this disease. Simply because a person is forgetting things, however, is not reason enough to suspect Alzheimer’s disease. There are far more reasons, rather than just Alzheimer’s.
Dementia describes a condition where a number of symptoms are caused through changes in the brain’s ability to function. Those who are suffering from dementia may do things like forgetting familiar faces or becoming lost in familiar surroundings, being unable to follow directions for even the most simple of tasks, or experience severe disorientation in regards to people, places, and time. Those who have dementia may also neglect their own personal safety, their nutrition, and their own personal hygiene.
Many different things can cause dementia. Some conditions that cause dementia can be reversed, while others cannot. Furthermore, many different medical conditions may cause symptoms that seem like Alzheimer's disease but are not. Some of these medical conditions may be treatable. Reversible conditions can be caused by a high fever, poor nutrition, dehydration, vitamin deficiency, some varieties of alcoholism, allergic reactions to medicines, problems with the thyroid gland, or head trauma.
Lapses in memory can also be caused by such things as stress and anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders, metabolic diseases such as those of the thyroid gland, lung, liver or kidney failure, diabetes, vitamin b12 deficiency, and infections such as meningitis or encephalitis which affect the brain or nerves surrounding it. Drugs (both prescription and over the counter) can also cause notable lapses in memory.
Sometimes, when a person is involved in an accident and they suffer some form of head trauma, this can also cause problems with one’s memory, in some cases leaving gaps and/or inconsistencies. Any swelling of the brain, or concussion, runs a risk of involving short or long-term memory retrieval. This, among other reasons, is why anyone suspected of having a concussion should seek medical attention immediately.
Promoting a socially active and exercised brain has shown to have some positive effect on those who suffer from dementia, though it is not yet known to what extent. Some suppose that maintaining a socially active and well-exercised brain will help to prevent Alzheimer’s from spreading. Choosing hobby activities such as word searches or number puzzles, even crosswords, will help to stimulate the brain.
Rather than watching television, help keep the mind and body healthy by enjoying a light lunch and then getting outside in the sunshine. Read a book. Take in the theatre. Listen to some classical music. All of these things help to lessen the risk of one contracting or furthering diseases such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. Discuss politics or enter a debate with a good friend, memorize poetry or song lyrics, pick up a new hobby. All of these things will help to stimulate the brain and help it to relax.
The bottom line is that, when dealing with a possible memory loss, one should ask them if they think it’s a serious alteration/deviation from their normal behaviors. Observation is a key factor in determining whether or not someone has a serious condition that is affecting the memory. If a person makes a sudden drastic change in their usual routine or if they switch personalities, it is advisable that it be brought to the attention of his/her doctor, so that they may be observed for a short period of time, in case there are any complications or further developments.
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