There are numerous causes of memory loss. Certainly there is a normal, age-related decline in memory. Generally, our brains are at their peak around age 30 and slowly atrophy from then on. But the question is, when is memory impairment beyond what is considered “normal”? The obvious concern of most people is that of Dementia (e.g. Alzheimer’s Disease).
There are numerous things besides Dementia that can impair memory. Common examples are medications and stress/anxiety/depression. There are certain medications that can significantly impair memory. Certainly, other underlying disease states can affect memory by causing direct injury to the brain (e.g. stroke or tumor) or interfering with the metabolism of the brain. Sometimes, it is a combination of multiple things resulting in memory impairment.
There are numerous types of dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease is considered the prototype dementia and is the most common, and by far, the most well known of the dementias. It can be difficult sometimes to distinguish between an early dementia and normal, age-related memory loss. Many patients are started on medications used to treat Alzheimer’s Disease without any specific evaluation simply because they happened to mention their memory is not as good as it used to be. Conversely, many patients are written off as having “normal” memory impairment when in fact they have an obvious dementia.
At present, there are no specific lab tests to diagnose dementia. Diagnosis is best made after a thorough neurological exam performed by a neurologist. There are, however, tests that need to be done to rule out other potential causes of memory/cognitive decline.
There is no cure for dementia at present but there are therapies available that may improve memory and attention. The earlier one can obtain an accurate diagnosis and start treatment, the better their chances at prolonging their quality of life.
Call us today to arrange an evaluation by one of our neurologists.
Contact us today for an appointment to address your concerns.