Just as our bodies change as we get older, the brain also experiences changes, which may result in some decline in memory and thinking abilities. Mild forgetfulness doesn’t usually affect your daily life or your ability to live independently. But it is important to know the difference between what is normal and what is a serious memory problem.
Memory loss might be more serious than mild forgetfulness when it interferes with everyday activities 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
Support and education from your physician is crucial. The best care for memory disorders comes after a thorough evaluation, accurate diagnosis and ongoing education.
Education about the condition diagnosed, including expected symptoms, complications and treatment options, now becomes critical. Increased knowledge can lower levels of anxiety and depression in both those diagnosed with a memory disorder and their caregivers. Equipping yourself with knowledge will allow you to take control of your life.
The Alzheimer’s Association has noted the following benefits of disease-specific knowledge, both for persons diagnosed with a memory disorder and their caregivers:
▪ Helps you to cope with the diagnosis
▪ Allows you to have more conversations with your doctor about available treatments, medications and research opportunities
▪ Allows you or your loved one to be involved with legal, financial and long-term care plans
▪ Encourages you to set goals that you or your loved one wish to accomplish while still able
▪ Helps you to recognize symptoms and how to cope with them
▪ Assists in building a care team that will support you now and in the future
▪ Allows you to take a more active role in managing the disease
Those diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia can learn more about how to take control of their health in Brainworks, a free series of programs from 2 to 3:30 p.m. each Wednesday in October.
The programs, provided by Baptist Health Medical Group Neurology and Baptist HealthwoRx Fitness and Wellness Center, will be at HealthwoRx in Lexington Green. To register or find out more, call 859-260-4354.
Stephanie Freeman is memory care clinic coordinator with Baptist Health Medical Group Neurology.