Memory loss is a very scary realization that many older adults face. Although not a normal part of the aging process, the risk of memory loss increases with age. Yet, there are many contributing factors that increase one’s risk of memory loss aside from age. Understanding the different causes of memory loss is important because then you can work to reduce your risk of cognitive decline by being proactive and taking the appropriate preventative steps.
Here are seven common causes of memory loss and cognitive decline along with what you can do to reduce your risk.
Age-related dementia: As mentioned, memory loss may simply be triggered by the changes that occur in the brain and your health through the aging process. With aging, many brain cells simply die off and our brains tend to shrink, which can contribute to memory loss. How to prevent age-related dementia, or slow down progression, is to maintain overall good health by eating well, exercising, maintaining strong social connections, and controlling and treating other medical conditions.
Stroke: Sudden memory loss could be a sign of a stroke, especially if paired with a droopy face, hearing loss, confusion, or one-sided paralysis. In a stroke, the brain suddenly loses blood supply and oxygen. If not treated soon enough, it can have life-long effects on the individual. Acting quickly to have someone who is experiencing a stroke treatment can reduce the risk of lifelong complications.
Medication problems: Many seniors are on medications and they, although beneficial, often come with side effects. One of those side effects may be memory problems. The likelihood of experiencing memory loss from medications increases when you’re mixing different medications together. For example, taking antihistamines with blood pressure-lowering medications. In this case, the damage isn’t usually permanent, but you may need to speak to your doctor about adjusting your medication.
Head injuries: A concussion is essentially a bruise on your brain. Because seniors are at a higher risk of falls, this puts them at a greater risk for a head injury resulting in a concussion. Brain injuries can trigger memory loss. It’s important that falls and other injuries are prevented in order to reduce the risk of head injuries and dementia.
Depression: Depression is more than the feeling of being sad, it can affect a person’s total health. Depressed seniors may experience sluggish thinking, memory problems, and other cognitive difficulties. In this situation, recognizing depression and seeking treatment can help prevent memory loss.
Fatigue: Forgetfulness increases with fatigue. The simple solution here is to rest up to improve cognitive function. On the other hand, if fatigue is chronic, then it’s important you uncover the cause of your chronic fatigue to improve memory by tackling the underlying issue.
Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy Body, Parkinson’s disease, and other types of dementia: In many cases, memory loss is tied to a type of dementia or neurological condition. Although these are age-associated conditions, they are not caused by age. Build up of proteins and Lewy bodies in the brain can result in some of these types of dementia and memory loss. Much is needed to fully understand these conditions to develop effective treatments and possible cures. As of now, there are no cures. Regardless, it’s still important that detection is made early on as to try and slow down the progression of these diseases.