When Should Your Memory Be Tested?

August 27, 2009 at 4:50 pm Leave a comment

Remember! Image by Ambrozio on Stock.Xchng

Nearly everyone experiences memory problems from time to time – and forgetful moments happen even in our youth!  But as we age, we’re less likely to dismiss it as a moment of distraction, and more likely to be concerned that it’s a sign of serious mental deterioration.

Most of the time, memory glitches aren’t symptoms of  serious problems, of course – but how do we know?  When should we talk to a doctor, and have our memory checked?

Here’s a quick checklist of some signs and symptoms that are cause for concern:

  • Difficulty recalling familiar names or words while speaking
    (That sense of “its right on the tip of my tongue!)
  • Substituting inappropriate words in conversation
    (Waffle instead of Window, for instance)
  • Trouble with focus and concentration
    (balancing the checkbook, staying focused enough to read a novel)
  • Getting disoriented or lost in familiar places
    (Not recognizing the street you live on, or your daughter’s home)
  • Repeating yourself; asking the same questions over and over
    (You may not notice this one, but chances are, others will tell you about it)
  • Misplacing things repeatedly
    (More than just  the occasional lost car keys, or finding your glasses on top of your head)
  • Being easily confused, and not being able to keep track of time/dates
    (forgetting what day it is, what year, or if it’s morning or afternoon)
  • Not being able to follow simple directions
    (This might be driving directions, or something like how to take your pills)
  • Struggling with familiar tasks
    (Like not being sure how to use your coffee maker, or forgetting a family recipe you’ve used for years)
  • Forgetting what familiar objects are used for
    (not recognizing your car keys, a spoon, or a comb)
  • Neglecting self-care
    (Not eating right, not combing your hair, forgetting to shower)
  • Changes in mood and personality
    (Short temper, lack of motivation, or just not being bothered by anything anymore)

As you can see, these symptoms are more than the occasional glitch people may refer to as a “senior moment” – they’re problems that move past an instant of frustration, and begin to affect the quality of life.   If you notice one or more of these signs in yourself or someone you love, it’s asking someone else to pay a bit of extra attention for a week or two, to see if more symptoms are involved.   And it’s worth a trip to the doctor, as well –  both to have your cognitive functions tested, and to check for potential underlying conditions (like hypertension or side effects of medication)

You can also check with the National Memory Screening web site for locations of free and confidential screenings around the country.  Part of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, their goal is to make memory screening as available and common as blood pressure and diabetes tests.

Entry filed under: memory. Tags: , , , .

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A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
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Authored by Tori Deaux
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