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Noticing signs of memory issue

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, August 1, 2018

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Whether you’re getting older or someone you love is aging, it’s common to worry about memory and thinking abilities.

But what’s the difference between mild forgetfulness, which is often a normal part of aging, and a more serious memory problem? The National Institute on Aging provided information to help us learn the basics. Find out when it’s time to see a doctor to determine whether you are experiencing memory issues and what may be causing them.

The difference between normal, age-related forgetfulness and a serious issue is that memory problems make it hard to do everyday things, like driving or shopping. Here are common signs you or someone you love has a problem:

  • Asking the same questions over and over again.
  • Getting lost in familiar places.
  • Not being able to follow instructions.
  • Becoming confused about time, people, and places

Many people become more forgetful as they age. Here are some typical examples of mild forgetfulness:

  • Missing a monthly payment.
  • Forgetting which day it is and remembering later.
  • Sometimes forgetting which word to use.
  • Losing things from time to time.

Some forgetfulness is a normal part of aging, but don’t ignore changes in your memory or thinking that concern you.

If you, a family member, or friend has problems remembering recent events or thinking clearly, talk with a doctor. They may suggest a thorough checkup to see what might be causing the symptoms.

Memory and other thinking problems have many possible causes, including depression, an infection or a side effect from medication. Sometimes, the problem can be treated, and the thinking problems disappear. Other times, the problem cannot be reversed. Finding the cause of the problems is important to determine the best course of action.

Some people are tempted by untried or unproven “cures” that claim to make the brain sharper or prevent dementia. Check with your doctor before trying pills, supplements, or other products that promise to improve memory or prevent brain disorders. These treatments might be unsafe, a waste of money, or both.

Contact the Wise County Extension office at 940-627-3341 for additional resources on healthy aging.

Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.

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