With every senior loved one, senior moments are frequent, but often not always considered serious memory loss.
“There it is! Another senior moment,” my grandma would always exclaim lightheartedly.
These often spurred from a lapse of memory such as forgetting the name of a new friend of mine, or not remembering what she did with her reading glasses. It usually just resulted in a friendly reminder or checking the three likely places where glasses would be: on top of her dresser, the bathroom, or the kitchen counter.
Nothing out of the ordinary.
But when do senior moments become signs of a deeper condition? There are key moments that stand out from the usual accidental slip-ups. These are the ones that matter, you should pay attention to, and use to gauge whether professional medical help must be sought out.
On the Tip of the Tongue
The occasional misplacing of items isn’t something to cause initial concern. Everyone loses track of car keys, television remotes, slippers, or a wallet. Finding the right word for describing something can sometimes be just a simple mind mishap, and not a true memory complaint. These occurrences aren’t detrimental to your daily life, and don’t happen enough to interfere with how you run a normal course of the day. Eventually, you find these items and realize everything is okay.
When is it not?
Adapting daily function in a drastic way, is when these subtle mishaps become more to the forefront of your attention. Forgetting very familiar places and people you’ve known for years, are when questions should be raised about mild cognitive impairment.
Slight confusion with a line item on billing is one thing, but significantly struggling to remember how to manage finances as well organized and timely as they once did is another.
There are a few common factors that can come into play with meddling our memory, aside from a deeper condition, though.
Aging and Controlled Factors
As we age, some decline in mental reasoning is expected, but there are other causes related to memory loss in older adults:
Not getting enough rest. A full night’s sleep can do wonders for the human body, and can make all the difference. Anyone who has gone into a day with not enough hours of sleep the night before knows they don’t have the same level of concentration and ability to problem solve.
Medications. Yes, the prescription that was recommended by a trusted doctor and taken regularly and on-time, may have memory loss as a side effect. Polypharmacy, or the situation of taking multiple medications that could interact badly, is something to take into account. Poor interactions can give negative results of fatigue, stress, and anxiety. If you think your prescriptions could be a cause for concern due to any unknown reaction, memory loss or not, always seek your doctor for advice and help.
Depression and stress build-up. When we live active and busy lifestyles, we sometimes get too much on our plate and don’t even realize we are overworking ourselves. Overdoing it and inducing a lot of stress can make anyone scatterbrained!
Depression is also an underlying cause. When feeling down, we are just as distracted from what’s currently going on. From being absent-minded, details big and small can easily be left unremembered.
Hearing and visual impairment. Our brains are part of the human body responsible for processing and organizing the information we receive through our sensory outlets. Our eyes and ears contribute a great deal to how we learn and retain new knowledge.
If hearing is muffled or vision is slightly blurred, it presents the chance of leaving our effective thinking with an incorrect foundation to build itself on. You can’t compute something accurately in the brain if what’s received isn’t correct to begin with. If this is a plausible cause of sudden confusion or memory loss, a doctor can conduct an exam to see if a sensory error is occurring.
Health Risk Factors That Contribute to Serious Memory Loss: Alzheimer’s or Dementia
High cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad cholesterol”, contribute to an increased risk of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Smoking and the use of alcohol. Smoking contributes to a higher risk of atherosclerosis and vascular disease, which go hand in hand with an increased risk of mental decline. Drinking alcohol in large amounts has shown in some studies to increase the risk as well.
Atherosclerosis. The buildup of plaque in the inner lining of an artery is what’s known as atherosclerosis. This greatly sets a risk for vascular dementia, due to the fact it messes with the delivery of blood to the brain, and in turn leading to a possible stroke.
Diabetes. Diabetes increases the likelihood of atherosclerosis and strokes, which contribute the chance of contracting Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia.
The Warning Signs of Memory Loss: Alzheimer’s or Dementia
When you raise a real level of concern can depend on your definition of normal vs. abnormal behavior. As we grow older, worry can arise even at the slightest bit of memory loss. How can it be known when it’s a serious underlying health problem?
If something is generally at the tip-of-the-tongue, it may not be anything to cause worry. However, if directions to a frequently visited place are forgotten, or the name of a close friend or family member is hard to think of, that could be a greater issue at hand.
An increased frequency of lapses in memory, associated with a higher degree of misinformation is what to watch out for. If there is a genuine concern for the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia, seek a physician for an in-depth exam.
Oftentimes, it is friends and family who notice a change in someone. What you should watch for in your loved one are:
- Signs of social withdrawal, a lack of attending church, engaging with friends, or usual activities with others
- Changes in hygiene and cleanliness of the house, especially in someone who was known for being spotless
- Changes in mood. Being easily upset or stressed out
- Problems with following a conversation or picking up new concepts
- Confusion with time and place, especially commonly visited areas
A diagnosis of early stages in Alzheimer’s or dementia is life-changing for all involved, not just the one given it. Whether someone steps in as a primary caregiver, or a senior living community is in the future, there are a number of options and support available to help.
The Kensington is different from other memory care communities. With two unique neighborhoods to suit the varying stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia, care is matched to fit the needs of each resident. Everyone is different and deserves care catered to benefit them as much as possible.
Our staff provides state-of-the-art therapies and enrichment to make each day as enjoyable as possible. Our dining team creates dishes from the heart, that not only enlighten taste buds, but provide the best nutrition.
We promise to love and care for your loved one, as we do our own. Get in touch with us today if you’d like to learn more about our memory care options, and how your loved one can receive the best care, and also feel at home.
Memory loss is life changing for all involved. At The Kensington, we provide a state-of-the-art memory care program, a higher staff-to-resident ratio than industry standards, and more advanced care services. Our promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own.
For additional resources regarding your loved one’s condition, please read on about our Memory Care, Alzheimer’s Care and Dementia Care.