My older sister and I were on a road trip to Colorado and she mentioned to me that she was worried about having some memory issues. As the conversation ensued she said, “Connie, I’m terrified that I have early signs of dementia!” Of course, I’m not an expert, but I’ve spent much of my life supporting families and individuals who are dealing with it. Memory loss can happen to anyone. There are many factors that contribute, including lack of sleep, hormonal changes, and normal aging of the brain. I like to think of our brains like a compute the older you are, the more information is stored. It may take longer to recall information. Nothing like a good night’s sleep for a reboot! Typical symptoms of normal memory loss are occasionally forgetting where you put something. You might forget an appointment or forget the details of a conversation, although you do remember having it. You may have ‘tip of the tongue’ moments and what I call ‘word searching.’ All of this fits into the normal patterns of aging.
Beyond this normal brain aging experience may come what experts call Mild Cognitive Impairment or MCI. It can be a precursor to dementia, but not necessarily. This condition does not interfere too much with everyday life. Individuals may learn to depend on notes and calendars for prompts. There certainly is an awareness that remembering things has become an issue. Symptoms are similar to those mentioned above but with greater frequency and intensity. It is certainly time to discuss these issues with your doctor.
Dementia is a broad term for many brain dysfunctions, including Alzheimer's. It is important to get the right medical attention. It can be a devastating diagnosis. The advanced symptoms that differentiate are increased disorientation to time and space, which truly interferes with daily life activities. Those individuals require continual help and support to carry out daily activities, and safety becomes a major issue. We hear so much about Alzheimer's today that it is no mystery why we are concerned every time we misplace our glasses. I assured my sis that I saw no signs of dementia, and her fixating on it and losing sleep over it would certainly not help! Anyone who is thinking they have an issue should talk openly to family or a trusted friend for reassurance. Let’s continue the conversation on Facebook at Just Now Old Enough.