Is It Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Or Am I Losing My Mind?

Many people worry about changes in memory and panic about possibly developing dementia or Alzheimer’s type dementia.  Many people find themselves feeling forgetful at different times in their lives but it does not automatically mean that you have dementia.  There are many factors that could account for forgetfulness including medications, sleep issues, anxiety, poor nutrition, poor nutritional absorption, depression, stress, ADHD, urinary tract infections, circulatory diseases and menopause,  just to name a few.  When should you worry about your memory?  You should worry when forgetfulness is interfering in any of the following areas of your life: social, work, self-care, decreased productivity, and feelings of frustration leading to a decrease in the quality of your life. 

What should you do if you are struggling with forgetfulness?  The first thing that you should do is to discuss your concerns with your primary care physician.  He or she may ask you a number of questions and may order tests to rule out non-dementia medical causes.  Your physician may also refer you to a specialist who will complete a full assessment and investigate all causes.  Many times forgetfulness is due to non-dementia causes that can be easily treated.

You can also see a psychotherapist to obtain an assessment of bio-psycho-social factors.  He or she may give you some psychological tests; obtain a complete psychosocial history and detailed information about you and your family.   Therapists should also work with your primary care physician to coordinate care in order to address all areas of concern.  There are several treatments and skills building that a psychotherapist can provide to address forgetfulness.  Relaxation treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy, solutions focused therapy and Interactive Metronome are often effective in treating forgetfulness due to psycho-social causes.  Interactive Metronome is also quite promising in treating individuals with dementia by improving executive functioning.  This treatment is a powerful and fun therapy and produces measurable results in a short period of time.

If you are diagnosed with dementia, there are several medications that help in slowing the progression of the disease.  Depending on the type, some dementias can respond to specific treatments.  Cardio-vascular exercise, remaining socially active and maintaining productivity can also have positive effects on the symptoms of dementia.  The medical community is making progress in developing a cure for dementia everyday.  In the meantime, it is important to stay active, exercise and explore alternative treatments such as Interactive Metronome.

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