Sunday, July 13, 2008

Some Potential Causes Of Memory Loss Or Cognitive Decline

So what actually causes memory loss or cognitive decline? The answer is complicated. Some things we know about. Others are speculative. Our scientists are making continuous progress in identifying potential causes, but lots more research remains to be done.

In the meantime, here are some of the more recognized ones as compiled by Jean Bandos, MSN, RN, GCNS-BC Research Director at "My Health Care Manager," a national company that helps seniors and their families manage the complexities of older adult life.

*Medication with polypharmacy and drug interactions- if an older adult is on multiple medications and is experiencing memory issues, they should have a pharmacist or physician assess each medication.

*Infection- i.e. Urinary Tract Infection –is often a primary cause for memory decline. Urinary tract infection is the most frequent cause.

*Dehydration- not drinking enough water will cause memory decline.

*Emotional stress or depression – with the elderly a diagnosis of dementia is sometimes given when it is actually depression. If true depression is treated then memory should return.

*Pain is underreported in elderly and causes a decline in memory.

*Alcoholism can cause serious memory loss.

Bob Tell

1 comment:

Citizen Carrie said...

Thank you for your wonderful website. I discovered it about a month ago, and I see I need to catch up on some of your latest posts.

I know you're not a trained physician or nurse, but I'm wondering if I could pick your brain about something. I have a few elderly relatives who are probably in different stages of dementia. They have been told they do not have Alzheimers, but they haven't been given any real formal diagnoses either.

When they are hospitalized and fighting against UTI's, their medications and everything else that can affect their memories, they can act, for lack of a better word, "crazy". An outsider would think their behavior is very strange and has no basis in any sort of underlying logic. Since I know them so well, I can see where their behavior is coming from. It's almost like some of their character traits are being magnified by a hundred-fold, which manifests itself as "crazy" behavior.

I've often heard people describing Alzheimer's as a disease that totally changes a person's personality. "He's a completely different person" is a phrase I hear over and over again. In your opinion, does Alzheimer's disease really change a person so much that their old personality completely disappears? Or, can a person spot at least a glimmer or a faint baseline of the old personality?

I hope my question makes sense to you. Regardless, thank you very much for the information and support you are giving to caregivers.