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Having a Senior Moment

Have you ever heard the saying “Having a senior moment” when talking about memory loss? How about hearing Alzheimer’s referred to as “Old-timers”? Many things in our society would lead you to believe that Dementia is a normal part of the aging process, however this is not the case. Not all older adults develop a form of Dementia. Not all older adults with memory problems are caused by Dementia. Other problems include regular aging, medical conditions, and emotional problems.

Have you ever heard the saying “Having a senior moment” when talking about memory loss? How about hearing Alzheimer’s referred to as “Old-timers”? Many things in our society would lead you to believe that Dementia is a normal part of the aging process, however this is not the case. Not all older adults develop a form of Dementia. Not all older adults with memory problems are caused by Dementia. Other problems include regular aging, medical conditions, and emotional problems.

Age Related Memory Loss

According to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, almost 40 percent of people over the age of 65 will experience some form of memory loss! When there is no underlying condition, this is known as “Age-Associated Memory Impairment.” As everyone gets older, many changes begin to occur in their body, and the brain is no different! It is normal for your brain to forget some things over time, this makes from for new information and memories.

Some people will notice:

-          It takes longer to learn new things

-          They do not remember information as well as they once did

-          They begin to lose items (like their glasses)

These are usually signs of age-associated memory impairment, and not serious memory problems


Medical Condition related memory loss

There are certain medical conditions that can be underlying causes for memory problems. If one of these conditions are causing forgetfulness, it should go away once you receive treatment from a doctor:

-          Tumors and blood clots

-          Brain Infections

-          Some thyroid, kidney and liver disorders

-          Urinary Tract Infections

-          Over consumption of drugs and/or alcohol

-          Head Injury (Ex. Concussion)

-          Side effects of certain medications

-          Poor diet, too few vitamins or minerals in a person’s body


Emotion Related Memory Loss

Some emotional problems can make a person more forgetful and can sometimes be mistaken for signs of dementia. These include:

-          Stress

-          Anxiety

-          Depression

-          Grief

-          Dealing with big life changes

Confusion and forgetfulness that are related to emotional triggers are generally short term and can improve as you work through the problems. If these feelings continue beyond a few weeks, talk to your doctor who may suggest treatments including counselling, medication, and lifestyle changes.


But, is it Dementia?

Unlike age-associated memory loss, the memory loss linked to Dementia is progressive. Studies by the University of Vermont and the Alzheimer’s Association developed the following list as some differences to look out for:

-         Forgetting important information

This goes beyond absentmindedness or forgetting a scheduled appointment. Symptoms of Dementia include forgetting names of loved ones, frequent inability to remember words, and inability to recall details of recent conversations and events.

-          Personality Changes

Someone with Dementia may experience major personality changes like increased aggression, paranoia, impulsiveness, and may exhibit behaviours very different from their personality.

-          Disorientation

People with Dementia tend to become disoriented in new environments, feeling lost, confused and easily aggravated.


Tips for Coping with Age-Associated Memory Loss (Alzheimer’s Society of Canada)

-          Keep a Routine

-          Organize Information (Calendar, Planner)

-          Put items in the same spot (ex. Hook for keys)

-          Run through the alphabet in your head to remember a word

-          Make associations (Relate new info with things you already know)

-          Involve your senses, make visual cues

-          Teach others or tell them stories

-          Get a full night’s sleep, healthy diet and exercise

 

Visit the Alzheimers Society Website to learn more about maintaining brain health:

https://alzheimer.ca/en/Home/About-dementia/Brain-health

Still unsure about the difference between Memory Loss and Dementia? Watch this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=119B_R1STL0

To learn more about Alzheimer’s  Disease and other Dementias, visit our blog posts “7 Common Misconceptions about Dementia” and “What is Memory Care”.