Are "Senior Moments" a sign of something more serious? - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Are "Senior Moments" a sign of something more serious?

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Memory loss can affect everyone from the old to the young. Once we get into middle age we pay more attention to memory problems. But when do "Senior Moments" become a sign of something more serious?

 Dr. Kenneth Chan a Neurologist at the NEA Baptist Clinic says there are lots of reasons we forget, from serious brain injuries, the medications we take, and of course...

Chan, "Advancing age is certainly one reason people tend to have memory loss. Memory loss is a very common complaint but not all memory loss leads to what we call Dementia. Which is probably the main thing most people are concerned about."

Some memory lapses can be credited to information not getting stored correctly in the brain. Not paying attention to where you left your keys, not visualizing what you needed from the room before you went there. Forgetting where you parked the car...those are attention problems. Many of us have problems with names. A good rule of thumb is to repeat the name several times to yourself and then try and work it into conversation. Another way is form a connection with something like "Anna likes bananas."

Dr. Cristina Rosca deals primarily with geriatric patients at Saint Bernards Senior Health Clinic in Jonesboro. She agrees with Dr. Chan that many things can cause memory loss but she points out that when normality swings out of kilter, then you need to seek help. For instance losing the car keys.

Rosca, "It's not about finding the keys but realizing that you put the keys in places that are unusual, like the fridge."

In other words, a real memory problem, is forgetting that you even have a car much less where you parked it.

There are other aspects that are caution lights for you or your loved ones to notice.

Rosca, "When you start forgetting the names of objects. When you are trying to describe something to a friend and you are not able to pinpoint the word itself. Like trying to speak in a foreign language and you can't find the word. "

Chan, " It's when you start losing function and forgetting things that you normally do, second nature things that suddenly become difficult or your loved one abruptly loses interest in a life long hobby. "

 For instance, The Dad, who used to be able to fix anything, can't remember what a screwdriver is used for. Or the Mom who used to be a great cook, forgets how to cook something simple.

Chris Johnson's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's several years ago. Johnson told me about a phone call she received from her mom.

Johnson, "Mother was an excellent cook. She said to me, How do I make spaghetti? Your dad wants spaghetti. So I told her to go to the store and what to do and she said okay.>

Later that day Chris stopped by her parents home, but there was no spaghetti. Johnson said her father was noticeably upset.

Johnson, "He said, she couldn't make it. We had tomatoes and Macaroni."

Johnson said before her father passed away she stopped by their home quite often to check on them.

Johnson, "You could go by and there would be a burner on and dad would be in the living room or something and you knew there was a problem." Eventually Johnson and her brother were forced to place their mother in a home that can be locked down and every resident wears identification.

If you or your family members suspect serious problems a thorough medical evaluation is the first step.

Your doctor will look at all the medications you take, there will be lab work, investigations into conditions like depression, anxiety etc. A real work up.

Chan, "It would be very nice for us to know which particular person whose complaining of memory loss to will develop Alzheimer's Dementia. We do not have any bio markers at this point."

Remember, not all memory loss means you are on the path to Dementia or Alzheimer's. But it's something that Chris and her brother think about often.

Johnson, "Every time we talk or something and one of us has forgotten something then we always laugh and say well is it you or me?"

There are some things that you can do to help slow the brain aging process.

Get plenty of sleep, reduce your stress, eat right and exercise. Play timed games on the computer or video games or even simple board games. Be social and take up cognitive leisure activities, learn a language, take up an instrument, take a class or work crosswords or puzzles.

Keeping those brain neurons busy means a healthier brain .

If you want to check your memory functions, we have attached a link that gives you several memory challenges. But this is not for a diagnosis. If you feel you have a problem give your doctor a call.

Copyright 2011 KAIT All rights reserved.

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