Five Causes of Memory Loss in the Elderly

I’ve spent some time working with the elderly, and the various stages and types of memory loss have always been of interest. What’s more interesting are the techniques that can be used to slow down progression.

Selective Memory: I have yet to meet a child who does not have selective memory. It’s a lot easier to remember a promise of a bowl of ice cream than it is the request that the lawn get mowed first.

This really never goes away, though most of us can keep it on the back burner. However, as we get older, it can come back with a vengeance. There are a number of people who will keep asking me the same question over and over again because they did not like my answer. I’ve watched them do the same thing with other people.

There’s no cure for this. I wish there was, but reminding them does no good; they don’t remember. It’s not a physical problem. It’s psychological.

Medications: Many elderly are in a lot of pain. Taking strong painkillers makes that less of a problem, but I can tell you that they don’t do your memory any good at all. The stronger the painkiller, the less likely you are to remember anything that happened while you were under its control.

If possible, reducing strength and dosage could help. However, if you’ve been on these medications for a long time, it could be more harmful to stop taking them than it is to deal with the memory loss.

Serious Illness: Many serious illnesses change brain chemistry. A good example is kidney disease. The uric acid buildup will affect the brain and the ability to remember. The solution depends on the illness, the age of the patient and the patient’s willingness to do what needs done. Discuss it with your doctor to find the best solution for your particular problem.

Strokes: Whether they are large or small, strokes will have an affect on your brain. Usually, memory loss is one of the problems. Sometimes it’s short term memory and sometimes it affects more.

The things that may help a stroke victim are similar to those of a person dealing with dementia in any of its various forms. Talking to the patient is vital. If you can, try to get a response, though it may be difficult. Puzzles, whether jigsaw or crossword, can be beneficial. Learning a new craft or relearning an old one helps keep the brain active.

Any memory problem needs to be discussed with the doctor. If you are caring for an elderly person, be prepared for them to deny any problems remembering. In fact, be prepared for them to be downright belligerent at the mere suggestion. If this happens, it’s a clear sign that this is a serious matter.

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