Senior Moments and Alzheimer’s: Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor0
Everyone forgets something at times. It may be where they put their car keys, a phone number they have known for years or what time an appointment is. This happens to people of all ages, not simply seniors. The elderly, however, often worry when this occurs and wonder if they are showing the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Here are five questions to ask your doctor if you are concerned about forgetfulness.
- What is the difference between a senior moment and Alzheimer’s? A senior moment occurs when someone experiences a brief moment of memory loss, due in part to a decrease in neurotransmitters in the brain, a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s disease, in contrast, is the result of amyloid plaques developing in spaces found between nerve cells in the brain. This is only one distinction, and your physician can explain these differences in more depth.
- What tests should be done to determine the cause of my symptoms? No one test can determine the presence of Alzheimer’s at this time, although imaging technology now allows doctors to see plaques and tangles at an earlier stage. Doctors typically conduct a variety of tests, including a mood evaluation and complete medical history, to determine the cause of the memory issues. Your doctor should explain what tests he or she feels are needed and why.
- How is a diagnosis made? What many individuals don’t realize is a simple infection in the body can lead to signs of confusion, leading some to believe they are suffering from Alzheimer’s rather than a senior moment. For example, a urinary tract infection may bring about this problem and have nothing to do with memory and brain functioning. You need to know how the doctor goes about ruling out other problems to ensure the brain is the source of the issues being experienced.
- What can be done if I am experiencing senior moments and how can I prevent it from progressing to Alzheimer’s in the future? Studies have shown senior moments can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s, but may also be attributed to other causes. For example, stress often brings about a senior moment, and reducing stress in your life may help to prevent the memory loss from becoming worse. Your doctor can make recommendations about changes in your life that may help to prevent future memory decline.
- When do I need to be seen? If memory loss occurs suddenly, prompt medical attention is needed. What happens if it appears to come on more slowly? At what point does it move from part of the normal aging process to something of concern? The doctor will help you determine when you need to be concerned and make an appointment and when you can attribute it to normal forgetfulness.
Although researchers have yet to find a cure for either senior moments or Alzheimer’s, progress continues to be made. For those suffering from senior moments, simple tricks, such as making lists, can be of help. For those who are showing signs of Alzheimer’s, medication may be of some help. Talk to your doctor today about your concerns and what steps need to be taken now and in the future to detect problems early.
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