While Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia understandably receive a great deal of attention, many seniors experience memory loss for a variety of other reasons. Often seniors (and their friends and relatives) worry that forgetfulness may mean that dementia is on the way. However, being aware of other possible causes of memory loss is important.
If a loved one shows signs of memory loss, it may be helpful to look at these possible reasons:
- Medication. One of the most common culprits when it comes to bouts of memory loss is medications. This is especially true when a person is taking more than one drug regularly. Among the medications which are often associated with memory issues are some antihistamines, antidepressants, sedatives, corticosteroids, and cardiovascular drugs. It’s important to talk with a doctor about whether any medications may be affecting memory.
- Sleep apnea. This sleeping disorder causes a person’s breathing to become very erratic; it stops and starts briefly many times while sleeping. Sleep apnea disrupts the REM stage of sleep and often causes problems with remembering directions or losing one’s pocketbook or keys.
- Thyroid issues. Both an overactive and an underactive thyroid can create symptoms similar to those caused by dementia.
- Alcohol and drugs. Not surprisingly, substance abuse can lead to significant cognitive impairment and greatly impede one’s memory. Short term effects follow ingestion of substances, but consistent abuse can result in long term memory loss issues.
- Technology. Like so many other things, memory comes with a “use it or lose it” caveat. Technological advances make it less necessary for people to remember things like phone numbers, addresses, directions, etc. If memory is not exercised sufficiently, it becomes less effective and efficient.
- Illness. There are a number of medical conditions that include memory loss among their symptoms. These include Lyme disease, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Those who are concerned about memory loss should consult with a doctor, being sure to tell the doctor as much relevant information as possible so that a cause can be pinpointed and treatment suggested.