a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Helpful (and Comforting) Comparisons Between Dementia and Simple Forgetfulness

As WE get older we find ourselves more and more concerned when we forget where we put our keys or where we parked our car. Or, when names or words escape us!

If YOU are not to the age where you are worrying about yourself there is a good chance you are worrying about your parents or other older loved ones.

Years ago, a  good friend and nurse who deals with the aged, gave me this bit of advice ---- simple, yet comforting.

The problem is not when you realize you are forgetting but rather when you are forgetting and not realizing it.

Fact: We are living much longer
Fact: Often the acceptable cause of death in my grandparent's day was simply "Old Age"
Fact: Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease are more prevalent  with this increased longevity
Fact: There is much greater media focus on the consequences of living longer

and this scares us!!! 

At the same time Carolyn offered the above she also gave me a handout from the Alzheimer's Association. Even though this handout is from the era of typewriters and mimeograph machines, the information is still pertinent --- and comforting --- and I share it with you in the font and format it was originally delivered:

         Dementia vs. Forgetfulness

We forget our keys or where we left a parked car at all ages, but with advancing age, the media focus on Alzheimer's Disease, and watching Alzheimer's destroy someone; forgetting begins to worry us more.

Normal forgetting is most often caused by inattentiveness, distractions or trying to keep too many details in mind at once. We most often forget recent things of little importance (dates, names, numbers, or complicated facts) and we rarely forget remote cherished memories kindled by frequent re-telling.

With normal forgetting, memory aids help. (Written notes, classifying lists, repeating messages or names our loud, or associating names with concrete visual images.)

With advancing age, it takes longer to react to events and to store them in memory. (We accumulate more stored memories with age as well.) But, we continue to learn and remember throughout life. In fact, comprehension and judgment may actually improve with age in the absence of disease.

Since changes in memory occur as part of the normal aging process, it is important that these changes are not mistaken for serious disorders, such as Alzheimer's Disease. Any memory changes that affect a person's ability to function deserve medical attention because of the possibility to reverse or stop the loss of brain function. 

Depression, Grief, Fatigue, Nervousness, Any Illness, Alcohol, Medications, and Overwhelming Responsibilities may all cause temporary memory loss and confusion. Depression and fatigue affect attention and concentration. If you can't concentrate, memories can't be learned or stored for later use. But, depression in persons of any age responds to various treatments.

Vision or hearing loss affects recent memory. If events, faces or conversations are perceived inaccurately, they can't be store in memory.


Forgetting appointments unless they are written down.
Forgetting names & faces of old acquaintances, but not close friends.
Difficulty remembering phone numbers
Learning new information more slowly, but still learning and remembering new things.

If you are noticing behaviors outside of the above, more investigation may be needed. 

Next Friday's post will continue with
                              ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE -- PHASES AND SYMPTOMS 
the handout I received at the same time as the above.