What to do when moments of mild forgetfulness get more serious

Stephanie Freeman.  Baptist Health Lexington. 2-21-13.  Lexington, KY.  Photo by Bill Straus. (C)2013 Bill Straus, all rights reserved.
Stephanie Freeman. Baptist Health Lexington. 2-21-13. Lexington, KY. Photo by Bill Straus. (C)2013 Bill Straus, all rights reserved.

We've all had our moments of forgetting why we walked into a room or losing our keys, yet it seems to cause us greater concern as we get older. It's important to know forgetfulness doesn't always mean Alzheimer's disease.

There are normal age-related changes that can affect our memory and thinking as we age, and it is important to know the difference between what is normal and what is a serious memory problem.

Just as our bodies change as we get older, the brain also will experience changes which may result in some decline in memory and thinking abilities. You may find that it takes you longer to recall information or that you are losing things, such as keys.

Usually, if given enough time, this information is remembered or keys are found. Mild forgetfulness doesn't usually impact your daily life or your ability to live independently.

Memory loss might be more serious than mild forgetfulness when it starts interfering with activities in your daily life such as work or your social life. Other symptoms may include:

■ Repeating questions or stories

■ Inability to follow directions

■ Trouble with language (mixing up commonly used words or forgetting words)

■ Forgetting dates, people or places

■ Changes in decision-making ability

Some memory problems possibly can be related to reversible health issues, which at times can be treated. Examples of these health issues can be thyroid disorders, vitamin B12 deficiency, tumors or infections in the brain, or medication side effects to name a few.

A physician will evaluate for, and treat, such medical conditions and should be visited as soon as possible.

It is possible that memory problems are related to Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia, and early diagnosis and treatment from a physician is important to receive maximum benefit from available treatment options. If you are concerned about memory loss, contact your doctor to get a timely evaluation and treatment.

If you have been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia, consider attending a free educational series of programs, Brainworks at HealthwoRx, from 1-2:30 p.m. each Wednesday in October at Baptist Health HealthwoRx in Lexington Green Mall.

Caregivers are welcome to attend with you. The programs are designed to help you learn about how to live your best life with a memory disorder.

To register, please call (859) 260-4354.