Dec 17, 2015

Caregivers Concerns About Memory Loss and Alzheimer's Around Christmas

By Carole Larkin
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Caregivers Concerns About Memory Loss and Alzheimer's

Hi Carole, this is Candy in Tyler TX. You were a great help to me and my family in caring for my mom. She passed away in April after a long mental and physical battle.

Learn - How the Loss of Memory Works in Alzheimer’s, and How Understanding This Could Help You

The last few years we had care for her around the clock, but were able to keep her at home. I really appreciate your support and help. Also, the Alzheimer’s conference in Tyler a few years ago was very helpful.

I am emailing you today to see if you have any advice for me. I have had some
concerns about my memory over the last couple of years. Nothing major, and
some of it is probably due to undiagnosed ADD :)

If I have some concerns, would you recommend that I go somewhere to get
checked, especially considering my mom and her dad both had Alzheimer’s. If you would
recommend that, where would I start?

Hope you are doing well and I appreciate your time and feedback.

Thanks,

Candy

From Carole Larkin.
Carole Larkin MA, CMC, CAEd, DCP, QDCS, EICS is an expert in Alzheimer’s and related Dementia care. Carole consults with families via telephone nationwide on problems related to dementia. You can reach her at ThirdAge Services.
Hi Candy,

My belated condolences to you and the rest of your family on your mother’s death in
April. It’s always so, so hard going through this.

You know, I’m constantly looking over my shoulder worrying that I have a form of
Dementia, as my mom had Alzheimer’s and Lewy body disease (confirmed at
autopsy). To start with, let me say a couple of things.

We’re at our highest peak cognitively when we are in our early 20’s. It’s slowly downhill
from there for ALL of us! Too bad we’re still emotionally immature at that age! ; < )

Have you been under stress in the past couple of years? Of course you have, because of your mother’s illness, if for no other reason, and I bet there are plenty of other reasons.

Heavy stress is a common cause of memory loss. The person is preoccupied with the stressors and doesn’t notice things around them, then thinks that they can’t remember what has happened, when what has really happened, is that they didn’t notice things to begin with.

 If you never noticed it in the first place, how could you dredge it up from your memory? You never planted it in your memory to begin with.

You’ve said more than once to me that you know that you are ADD. OK, if that’s true, that means that you can’t really always keep your attention focused on things. If you can’t keep your attention focused on one thing or another for a significant period of time, how are you going to notice it long enough to implant it in your memory to retrieve later?

The simple answer is you can’t, at least not for everything, so naturally it’s going to seem like you don’t remember things, but in truth, you never paid enough attention to them in the first place, not that you can’t remember them.

By definition people with ADD pay less attention to more things that “regular” people. I guess that’s why they call it Attention Deficit Disorder. If you’ve been feeling down and depressed for a long time, that’s another reason for memory loss, and even a few other symptoms that mimic dementia. That’s why family doctors have a tendency to hand out anti depression medicines first, before they even consider looking to see if there is dementia there.

Sometimes they are right in doing that, and sometimes they are wrong. But depression is more common than Dementia, especially in people below the age of 65, so that’s why they start there.

There are screening tests for depression, and your family doctor can give you one or two of those tests, to exclude that as a reason for memory loss. Dementia is so much more than just memory loss. It’s also loss of logic and reasoning power.

If you are being told that you are doing illogical things by the people around you every day, then be concerned.

If people around you are saying that they have noticed that your personality has changed, be concerned.

If the people around you are saying that you don’t seem to be aware that you are acting differently, or that you even look differently (like not keeping yourself up, by bathing enough, dressing appropriately for the weather) then you should be concerned.

Finally, people who have real memory loss, never remember the event or person later. I mean never, ever remember it. It’s as if it never happened. If you remember later ( hours or days even) that you forgot something, that’s not dementia. It’s just getting older. It takes longer for all of us to retrieve memories the older we get because we have just that more “stuff” in our heads, that we’re bombarded with every day.

It’s doggone near impossible to keep track of it all, and then you have everything on your cell phone on top of that!

However, if none of the above applies to you, and it’s confirmed by the people around you every day, then if your Social Worker friend is still around, have her download the MOCA (the Montreal Cognitive Assessment) dementia screening test from the internet along with how to grade it.

You can’t be the person to download it because you’d see it and that would skew your score on it, and then it would be useless as a screening test.

If you score lower than a 24 on it, get back in touch with me, because then we would have something to talk about. OK?

Best wishes, Carole

Hi Carole Thank you very much for taking time to share all of that information with me. I think you're exactly right, usually I just never noticed things in the first place! And I think my husband would agree with that! Hope you are doing well & that you all have a Merry Christmas ;)

Candy

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