As people get older, they may notice that their memory may decline. This can happen for many reasons. Some of these reasons are reversible. Others, however, are not. The approach to treating memory loss depends on the cause. Below are a few of the most common causes.
Alzheimer disease is probably the most well-known – and the most feared – cause of memory loss. The exact cause of Alzheimer disease is unknown, although research is still ongoing. Genetic risk factors and environmental factors likely play a part. Everyone experiences Alzheimer disease differently, although there are commonalities. Alzheimer disease involves memory loss, language impairment, spatial disorientation, difficulty speaking, and difficulty doing other once simple tasks. People with Alzheimer disease may also have behavioral changes, changes in mood, sleep, urinary incontinence, and other issues as the disease progresses. Alzheimer disease has no known cure as of yet.
Vascular dementia is characterized by a slow, gradual decline in cognition caused by small vessel injury. Risk factors to develop this condition include hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and advanced age. Over time, these conditions can damage small vessels, causing decreased blood supply to small portions of the brain. Cognitive issues, problems with moving, and changes in behavior are symptoms of vascular dementia. Preventing vascular
dementia involves preventing hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia. Diet and exercise are key. Generally, vascular dementia is not reversible, although certain aspects may be optimized through diet, exercise, and medications.
Depression is actually a major cause of memory loss in older people. It can mimic Alzheimer, and family members may become concerned. Older people may become isolated and lonely, which leads to depression. People often complain of seeming slower, having a flatter affect, and generally having a lower mood and motivation. Memory loss caused by depression can be treated by treating the depression. Generally speaking, the memory loss resolves with treatment of this underlying cause.
Nutrition is important, and as people age, they may not receive proper nutrition. Specifically, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, and thiamine deficiencies can cause memory loss. Vitamin B12 deficiencies are found mostly in alcohol abusers and those under strict vegan diets. It takes years to develop a deficiency because Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver. Folic acid presents similarly to Vitamin B12 deficiency and is more often found in the elderly and people suffering from alcohol use disorder. Memory loss from vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiency is generally reversible. Memory loss from thiamine deficiency may not be.
Many elderly people develop endocrine disorders. One common disorder that may cause memory loss is hypothyroidism. The thyroid is a gland in the neck that secretes hormones that regulate many functions of the body like metabolism and function. Hyperthyroidism can also cause memory loss. Other endocrine disturbances may cause memory loss. For example, too much or too little calcium may cause cognitive disturbances.
Other Neurologic Conditions
There are many neurologic conditions that may cause memory loss. These include brain tumors, subdural hematoma, and normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). Brain tumors are a frightening possibility, but still need to be considered. A subdural hematoma is a brain bleed that is generally slow growing. NPH is a condition in which the cerebral spinal fluid in the brain builds up and causes enlarged ventricles, causing issues with cognition, walking, and urinary incontinence.
Other conditions may cause memory loss. These include hearing loss, vision loss, sleep disturbances, and medication side-effects. Some of these conditions may cause social isolation, which may contribute to poor mood, which in turn contributes to memory loss. Memory loss may also be caused by other medical conditions. For example, long-term alcohol disuse may cause long-term, irreversible memory loss.
When most people hear the phrase ‘memory loss’, they think of Alzheimer disease or dementia. However, memory loss can be caused by many different things. If you are concerned about memory loss and aging, contact the Anti Aging and Wellness Clinic today. We can address your concerns and provide recommendations to help you achieve your aging goals.