A lot of us have memory lapses. We walk into a room and forget why. We can’t remember where we parked the car. These lapses can be thought of as “normal” or “everyday” forgetfulness.
Is this something we should be concerned about? Most likely, no. However, we should all be familiar with signs that may indicate that what we’re experiencing is more than what we would typically expect to see with normal aging.
Some people develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI). People who have MCI can still take care of themselves and do their normal activities, but they may:
If you have concerns about your memory or thinking skills, your health care clinician can review and discuss potential causes. Some medications or other health conditions can cause these problems. Your clinician may recommend a neuropsychological evaluation to determine if there are clinically meaningful changes in your cognitive functioning.
Another note about MCI: It can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Evaluation with a primary care clinician, neurologist, or neuropsychologist can be helpful in diagnosing MCI and Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that affects a person’s cognitive functioning, and, eventually, their ability to do routine daily activities.
It’s the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. It typically starts after age 65, and risk increases with age. Most cases of Alzheimer’s disease appear to be sporadic; however, having a first-degree relative with the disease increases your risk for developing it. Alzheimer’s disease starts slowly. It begins by affecting the parts of your brain that are involved in memory. Every person with Alzheimer’s disease may display symptoms differently, but here are some common early signs of Alzheimer’s:
As the disease progress, the person may:
Eventually, the person may need constant care.
At this time, there is no treatment to stop the disease. We do, however, have medications that may help temporarily slow the progression of symptoms.
A health care clinician can discuss treatment options. If Alzheimer’s disease is suspected, the clinician may refer the patient to a specialist such as a neurologist who focuses on disorders of the brain and nervous system. A referral to a neuropsychologist, a psychologist who specializes in brain-behavior relationships, may also be helpful. Aurora also has geriatricians who can evaluate and treat cognitive changes, as well as Memory Clinics for older adults where we can assess for cognitive decline and connect patients and family members with a variety of helpful resources.
If you need help to find a doctor, you can locate a primary care provider or specialist online. You can make an appointment online, too.