Many people worry about their age-related memory “slips” because they have seen severe memory problems in friends and relatives with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
These conditions involve memory loss, along with impairment of other mental or cognitive abilities.
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People with dementia may also lose their ability to reason, become confused about the time and date and where they are, may have trouble reading maps and often get lost, and experience personality and mood changes. For the doctor to diagnose dementia, these cognitive problems must impair patients’ abilities to care for themselves.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but small strokes in the brain, medication side effects, or even depression can impair cognitive abilities enough to create a dementia syndrome.
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Whenever someone feels that a loss of cognitive abilities is beginning to interfere with daily life, it is important to seek medical advice.
Because Alzheimer’s disease has such a gradual onset, its early stages often mimic the normal memory changes that everyone experiences.
Several studies suggest that the sooner people are diagnosed and begin treatment for Alzheimer’s, the better the patient’s expected outcome. So when in doubt, see your doctor.
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