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Five Frequently Asked Questions about Memory Loss

Contributed by Belmont Village

Most of us have moments when we struggle to remember. It's not unusual to worry, or to be concerned when you see a family member grappling with these issues, but a lot of things can make you forgetful. Stress and multi-tasking are major culprits. Research has also shown that sheer volume of information attained over a lifetime can be a factor, and nearly everyone's memory slows a little with aging.

However, if problems are significant and have begun suddenly, it could be a sign of something more serious. You should speak with your doctor about changes, especially if they're interfering with daily life. As a guide, Belmont Village Senior Living answers frequently asked questions from seniors and their families.

Q: I keep misplacing and forgetting routine things - should I be worried?
A: Multi-tasking can prevent you from storing and retaining memories. Focus on being in the moment and ignoring distractions (like talking on the phone) when preforming a task. Indicators of a more serious issue include trouble re-tracing steps, finding things in unusual places - keys in the freezer, for example - or trouble recognizing familiar surroundings.

Q: Why can't I remember names anymore?
A: If it's someone you just met, you probably were not paying focused attention when you heard their name. Try using mnemonics- say the name and think of an image that will help you recall it, e.g., Debbie/debit card. Don't worry unless you have trouble recognizing familiar people that you see regularly.

Q: What does it mean when I can't think of a certain word or accidently use the wrong word?
A: There could be a simple explanation, such as distraction or a competing memory - one thing reminds you of another and you misspeak. However, if this is a consistent problem it could be a sign of a more significant level of loss and should be checked out.

Q: My loved one has started repeating himself - asking the same question over and over - what is going on?
A: This is a more profound level of memory loss. Likely this person is also forgetting appointments, not paying bills and forgetting or refusing to perform basic activities like cooking, laundry and grooming. An assessment by a medical professional is necessary.

Q: I think we have a problem. What should we do?
A: First, don't give up hope. Discuss concerns with your physician or a specialist. There may be an underlying cause that's correctable. Though there's no cure for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of memory loss, diet, exercise, regular mental fitness and social interaction can help maintain brain function.

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