Are you just forgetful, or is it something worse?
With so much to remember, it’s not a surprise that we all forget things. Even after we write down reminders, schedule appointments in our phone or tell people to remind us, things fall through the cracks. But as we age, the problem can become more of an issue and concern. So how can you tell the difference between simple forgetfulness and needing to consult a physician or go to a memory center?
“There isn’t always a fine line, but it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to brain functioning,” says Dr. Joseph Coda, a clinical neuropsychologist and provider at the Memory Center of Advocate Dreyer in Aurora, Ill. “Early recognition of cognitive difficulty can help with a more accurate diagnosis so appropriate treatment options and recommendations can be provided to the patient and their family.”
A few warning signs that someone may need the help of a physician include:
- Not remembering recently learned information or important dates and events. If a family member continuously asks for the same information, it could be a warning sign.
- Inability to complete tasks that once were very familiar. People who have signs of significant memory loss often cannot remember rules to games or how to get certain places they have traveled.
- Changes in mood or personality may indicate that there is a problem. If a loved one becomes confused easily or overly suspicious of friends and family, it may be time to contact a physician about memory concerns.
“There really are many warning signs,” says Dr. Coda. “The problem is, many times we attribute it to old age or don’t want to admit that someone we love could really be struggling with simple or routine tasks.”
Taking a patient to a memory center or physician may require some convincing, but the rewards are worthwhile. Physicians can outline a treatment plan that may not require any medication. There are also exercises that can be recommended to increase the ability for remembering. “With every patient, we search for options to help the patient retain their independence for as long as possible,” says Dr. Coda. “We are searching to find the best ways to help your loved ones continue their life as normally as possible.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.