We all experience some memory slips from time to time. Forgetting a name, address or friend’s favorite dish is normal, but when these memory slips impact day-to-day life, they pose a concern. Forgetfulness that is increasingly common or comes on quickly is a reason to see a doctor. The cause might be some form of dementia.
While dementia is a frightening diagnosis, take a minute to consider what exactly it is. Rather than a disease, dementia is a blanket term for various mental impairments including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, vascular dementia, Huntington’s disease and others. While these conditions are treatable, they are not curable. Treatment only delays the onset or progression of symptoms. If you have one of these conditions, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible because treatments are most effective in the earliest stages.
Another reason to see a doctor if you suspect dementia is that as many as one in five cases are reversible. Some conditions cause individuals, and especially senior citizens, to display symptoms that look like dementia. When the conditions are addressed, a cure is possible.
Medications impact all of us in different ways. For some individuals, certain medications trigger confusion or drowsiness and impact everyday cognitive functioning. Certain medications used to treat COPD, incontinence and insomnia put seniors at an especially high risk of displaying dementia-like behaviors. Discontinuing or changing the medication or reducing the dose often causes symptoms to almost immediately improve. Talking to your doctor is the best way to understand if your medication might be causing memory loss.
Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are common among seniors. This is especially true for those who are incontinent or using a catheter. The fever, pain and urgency are often missed unless a UTI is diagnosed. This causes seniors to feel agitated, delirious, confused or even to hallucinate. Testing for a UTI is simple and can be done in any doctor’s office. The treatment often involves a course of antibiotics and quickly causes dementia-like symptoms to go away.
Depression is common among seniors, especially those who are homebound or without companionship. It often causes a lack of interest in life and leads to a clouding of thoughts, confusion or forgetfulness. People with untreated depression often experience a condition called pseudo dementia. While this condition closely mimics dementia, it is reversible with treatment for the depression. For many seniors, this involves medication, counseling and increasing support through family, friends or professional caregivers.
Any condition that inhibits blood flow throughout the body and to the brain increases an individual’s chance of being diagnosed with dementia. This is why it is important to see a doctor regularly for checkups to test blood pressure, cholesterol levels and take other heart healthy measurements. Eating a healthy diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins is also of value. Finally, if you smoke, it is important to quit. If you drink excessively, cut back.
Anything that happens to the brain increases the risk of dementia because of how it physically impacts brain tissue. Seniors who are unstable or off balance are at an increased risk of falling. Just one fall can cause bleeding of the brain or other injuries that often lead to a sudden onset of dementia-like symptoms. If a senior falls, it is important to see a doctor immediately even if the fall does not seem severe. If injury does occur, prompt medical attention often makes symptoms reversible. Proactively, providing seniors with support if balance and stability are a concern is beneficial. This is done by properly outfitting the home with assistive devices, offering a walker or wheelchair when necessary, hiring an in home caregiver and seeking the advice of a physical therapist or other medical professionals.
Forgetfulness is not always a one way street to permanent cognitive decline. By paying attention to symptoms when they present and seeking medical advice, you can preserve your memory and enjoy a higher quality of life. Salus Homecare Los Angeles supports taking measures like this. If we can help in any way, just give us a call.
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