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Understanding Memory Disorders

Memory disorders and memory loss can be triggered by high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, nutritional deficiency, thyroid problems, substance abuse, medication, concussion or other injury, stroke, or depression and stress. The good news is that many of these issues are manageable and the memory disorder in these cases can be remediated.

Memory loss is a fairly common part of the aging process, but it’s not unique to elderly people; we’re all forgetful at one time or another. Being unable to recall a name or wondering why you walked into a room is vexing, but in most cases it’s no call for alarm. In fact, it’s normal to experience a general decline in cognitive and neural function as we get older, with age-related memory loss often beginning in our 20s. As the brain ages, it produces fewer neurotransmitters. The hippocampus, which aids in the memory process, also begins to deteriorate in the aging brain. These changes are very gradual, so we may not notice we’re having problems with memory or our ability to think until much later in life.

But aging isn’t always the cause of impaired memory.

How can I avoid memory loss?

You can’t control genetics or an accidental blow to the head, but you can be mindful of many of the other triggers mentioned above. Sleep well and eat right. Seek treatment for thyroid and blood pressure issues. Find ways to manage stress or depression. Keep tobacco, drug, and alcohol use in check.

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for age-related memory loss, but experts say you can do things earlier in life that may curtail the progression of a memory disorder. A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that a diet high in vitamin C and antioxidants can stave off age-related memory loss. We also know that keeping active both physically and mentally can help slow memory decline. So, eat plenty of fruit and veggies, keep moving, and play Sudoku!

When to seek help

If a loved one’s memory lapses go beyond the occasional misplaced house key or forgotten word and interferes with their ability to work, live independently, or maintain relationships, it could be a sign of a deeper problem. It’s important to speak with a doctor and get a diagnosis as quickly as possible, no matter how difficult that may be. The doctor can do a screening to identify the cause of the memory disorder and determine the best course of treatment.

Cognitive impairment or dementia?

Memory loss doesn’t necessarily mean your loved one has dementia, and dementia doesn’t necessarily mean they have Alzheimer’s.

When a screening rules out normal, age-related memory problems or underlying health issues, the doctor may diagnose mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a memory disorder associated with impaired memory, language, thinking, and/or judgment. It is considered a bridge between normal cognitive changes and the more serious symptoms of dementia.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, dementia is “a syndrome that involves impairment in multiple aspects of mental ability, and is sufficiently severe that an individual cannot function independently.” It can be caused by a number of diseases, the most well-known of which is Alzheimer’s.

Memory care at the Lester Senior Living Community

Just as memory disorders differ, every person’s journey through dementia is different. Much can be done to support loved ones living with the condition as well as their families and caregivers.

That’s why the Memory Care Suite at Lester Senior Living Community centers on an individualized approach to resident care. Our nursing professionals and caregivers are specially trained through the Comfort Matters® dementia care program, a nationally-recognized best practices accreditation process, that focuses on each resident’s particular needs and comforts at all times. Moreover, this holistic philosophy also fosters family and social connections, further enhancing residents’ overall health and well-being.

To learn more about the Memory Care Suite’s person-centered memory care, and our team’s commitment to improving the quality of care and quality of life for our residents with memory disorders, contact David Rozen at (973) 929-2725 or davidr@jchcorp.org.