June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and focuses on spreading awareness around what you can do to help end Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. There is no better time to take control of your brain health by learning more about dementia-related memory loss, and why you should get a memory screen.
Memory Loss: When It’s Normal and When It’s Not
Since the brain changes as we get older, it is reasonable to experience some memory loss. Many brush it off as “getting older,” but there are differences between age-related memory loss and something more. Let’s look at some examples that are part of the aging process and what is not:
Age-Related Memory Problems:
- Trouble remembering names and finding words in conversations.
- Problem-solving skills are slowed.
- It takes longer to multi-task.
- Occasionally misplaces things but can later find them.
Dementia and Cognitive Impairment-Related Memory Problems:
- Struggles or is unable to complete complex tasks such as paying bills, cooking, shopping, and taking medications.
- Forgets recent events, tells the same story over and over.
- Displays poor judgment.
- Loses insight or awareness of memory loss.
- Memory issues interfere with normal daily life.
Another difference is the timeline between the two. Age-related memory loss occurs gradually, starting around the age of 50 and slowly declines a little each year until we die. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease beginning much earlier than age-related memory loss, and on average, those diagnosed live 4-8 years after diagnosis. Some may live for 20 more depending on other factors.
Why You Should Get a Memory Screen
An early diagnosis allows you a better chance of benefitting from current treatment options. It also allows you to prioritize your health. For instance, lifestyle changes like managing chronic health issues, exercising, and staying mentally active may help preserve cognitive function.
A memory screen doesn’t provide a diagnosis, but rather it’s used as a tool to determine if additional steps need to be taken. Although family history and other factors increase your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, anyone can get it. To learn more about the free memory screens at Woodland Research Northwest, please call us at (479) 927-3000, or click here.