(Editor’s note: This content is provided by Antidote, a Next Avenue sponsor.)
Memory loss can be a part of normal aging. Other conditions like depression and challenges like chronic stress and sleep difficulties can also lead to memory loss symptoms. Of course, after you’ve misplaced your keys or forgotten a name a few times, it’s natural to worry that your memory lapses are caused by something worse. How can you tell if your forgetfulness is a regular part of getting older, or the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease? If you’re concerned about your memory, there are a few steps you can take to get the right diagnosis and feel more in control.
- Ask family and friends if they’ve noticed changes in your behavior or memory. Sometimes, loved ones are the first to notice a change. Ask friends and family if they’ve noticed a change in your personality or other troubling signs. If your loved ones have already said something about your memory loss, that’s a good sign it’s time to talk to your doctor. In fact, friends and family often spot the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s better than traditional screening tests, according to a 2010 study at the Washington University School of Medicine.
- Talk to your doctor. Start by discussing your concerns with your primary care physician. Your regular doctor is in a good position to know whether a new medication or other condition might be causing your symptoms. After an initial appointment, your primary care physician may refer you to a neurologist, psychiatrist, neuropsychologist or other specialist for additional memory testing. Before your appointment with your doctor or specialist, write down the memory symptoms you’ve been concerned about — and be as detailed as possible. Are you having trouble finding the right word, or do you find yourself using the wrong word in conversation? Those kinds of differences can be meaningful for memory evaluation.
- Consider volunteering for a clinical study. Clinical studies help find potential new treatments for various conditions, including those that may impact memory and thinking skills. Two new clinical studies are testing if an investigational medication can slow the development of symptoms in people experiencing mild cognitive impairment. See if you can take part. Want to see all of your options? Search for Alzheimer’s and dementia clinical trials to find a match for you.
- If you receive a clean bill of health from your doctor, address any underlying problems. Sleep deprivation can cause memory loss symptoms, so make sure you’re getting enough rest. Chronic stress from your work or personal life can also contribute negatively to memory. And if you’re experiencing both? Sleep deprivation makes memory issues from chronic stress even worse. The brain sorts and organizes memories during normal sleep. Depression can also impact your ability to store new memories and can affect short-term memory. Other conditions, including hyperthyroidism and concussion, can also cause memory loss symptoms. And even regular multi-tasking can reduce your ability to retain information and create new memories.
- If your doctor does diagnose you with memory loss, know that there are benefits to early detection. You can receive the maximum benefit from existing treatments that can help slow memory loss and extend independence. Early intervention through a clinical study may also be an option for you — learn more.
Next Avenue brings you stories that are inspiring and change lives. We know that because we hear it from our readers every single day. One reader says,
"Every time I read a post, I feel like I'm able to take a single, clear lesson away from it, which is why I think it's so great."
Your generous donation will help us continue to bring you the information you care about. What story will you help make possible?