Despite what you may think, there is something you can do
By Staff Blogger/ June, 2019
Dementia is a general term for the loss of memory and other cognitive functions commonly seen in older adults, and Alzheimer’s disease is its most common cause. Contrary to what many believe, memory loss and dementia-related diseases like Alzheimer’s are not a normal part of aging.
While Alzheimer’s and other irreversible causes of dementia like Frontotemporal Dementia or Lewy Body Dementia don’t have a cure yet, there are causes of memory loss that can be treated. Here are 13 that we would like to share with you:
- Poor Nutrition
Older adults are often at risk of food insecurity and are unable to prepare balanced meals for themselves, resulting in cognitive issues due to a shortage of vitamins and nutrients. Eating a complete and balanced diet can help your brain function correctly.
Drinking enough fluids helps our bodies rehydrate and replenish our body’s water supply. When dehydrated, our brains are unable to fulfill their normal functions, including memory and attention. To stay hydrated, an older adult should consume 6-8 drinks a day – remember: caffeinated beverages, like coffee or tea, have the opposite effect and can flush out fluids from the body.
- Fluctuating Blood Sugar
Many people develop diabetes later on in life without even realizing it. Adults should make sure to ask their physician to check their blood sugar, and to treat any diagnosed deficiencies through diet, exercise, medication, and insulin therapy.
- Thyroid Deficiency
Like with blood sugar, many adults do not realize they have abnormal thyroid hormone levels until identified by a physician. If left untreated, hypothyroidism can cause changes in physical appearance, unsettled emotions, internal complications like heart disease. Physicians will often prescribe medication for thyroid conditions.
Many infections can cause temporary memory loss – Urinary Tract Infections are the most common among seniors, and can cause temporary memory loss, changes in behavior, confusion, decreased appetite, and depression. UTIs can be treated with antibiotics and plenty of fluids.
- Medication Combinations
When an elderly adult takes multiple pills a day, they may have mix-ups in their medication or experience medication interaction. When two or more medications interact, there may be an increase or decrease of the drugs’ effectiveness, or of their side effects, potentially leading to dangerous health risks. To treat ill effects from medication combination, there is both pharmaceutical and non-medical talk therapy.
- Medication Toxicity
Sometimes, too much medication can build up in the blood, either when the dosage taken is too high or when the liver or kidneys fail to flush the drug out of the body. This is called medication toxicity, or drug toxicity, and can lead to adverse effects on the body such as memory loss.
Depression can often lead to cognitive impairment and confusion. Getting more sleep, trying antidepressant medication, or attending a stress reduction program could help alleviate memory loss associated with depression.
- Sensory Losses
Symptoms like hearing loss or sight impairment can disorient an individual, causing them to lose their sense of time and place. People with dual sensory loss (DSL), or combined vision and hearing loss, are much more likely to experience memory decline. Possible treatments for sensory losses include hearing aids and sensory “reeducation,” or sensory retraining.
- Lung Disease
A decrease in lung capacity can cause the brain to not get enough oxygen, leading to memory loss. At times, a person’s memory loss can completely disappear once they start receiving treatment to compensate for weakened lungs. Methods of improving symptoms of lung disease include antibiotics, corticosteroids to heal lung inflammation, and inhaled oxygen treatment.
Cancer found in the brain, or even other organs such as the liver, can cause memory loss. It is another reason why is it crucial to catch cancer in its early stages; a prompt diagnosis increases the chances of treating or removing harmful tumors, and in turn could help resolve memory loss symptoms.
- Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and restarts. This irregular pattern of breathing can cut off oxygen from the brain, which, of course, can lead to memory impairment. Treating sleep apnea through surgery or a supplemental sleeping device such as a CPAP machine can help improve symptoms of memory loss.
- Toxic House
Problems with a person’s own house could be compromising their health without them knowing. For example, furnaces can sometimes malfunction and release carbon monoxide into the air. Exposure to carbon monoxide leaks can cause confusion and sleepiness. In this case, fixing the furnace could restore a person’s alertness, and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in the house to prevent further damage in the future.
Memory loss does not always mean Alzheimer’s, and, as evidenced from this list, there are causes of memory loss that can absolutely be treated. Our takeaway message is to schedule regular visits with your physician to help stay on top of your health. Getting an early and proper diagnosis of memory loss can help you identify any other possible health issues that can be treated. An early diagnosis of MCI, Alzheimer’s or another related form of dementia will allow you to take the proper steps to getting your future health care plans in place.
Worried about memory loss? We can help. Call our free Helpline at 844-435-7259 and speak with one of our dementia specialists about our programs and services that can help you and your family.