When you or someone you love experiences a memory lapse, you may worry it is the start of dementia. Yet, most of us who have memory challenges as we age are not experiencing dementia. There are other possible causes. A doctor's visit can help you sort out the cause of your memory issue and determine if dementia is involved. Some other common causes of memory loss are:
- Normal age-related memory challenges that are a result of slowing memory processing, more time needed to recall information and a decreasing ability to multitask. There have been indications this type of memory challenge can be helped through physical exercise.
- Drug interactions and side effects that can mimic dementia, or make an underlying dementia worse. Make sure your physician has a full list of medications (both over-the-counter and prescribed) and reviews them as a possible cause of memory problems. Prior to the doctor's visit, you may want to consult your pharmacist to identify possible medication culprits, so your doctor can focus more on the next steps.
- Other illnesses that have symptoms similar to dementia. These medical conditions include anemia, hypothyroidism, nutritional deficiencies, depression and others. Appropriate treatment may reduce or eliminate the memory problems.
The conditions above should be carefully explored by a physician prior to making a dementia diagnosis. Even when there is dementia, medication problems and other potential conditions should be considered and addressed as needed.
To learn more about this topic, watch our video: Dementia Diagnosis: Why It’s Important, What to Expect.