Are you worried about your memory?
As we get older, at some point we may worry about our memory. Have you ever walked into a room and forgot why you went in there? It happens to most of us and is usually not a reason to worry, especially if you can quickly retrace your steps and remember why you went into the room in the first place. The following tips, however, may help you decide if you need further evaluation to rule out dementia or something else that may be causing problems.
- Your loved ones or friends have pointed out a memory concern or mistakes that you have made. Are they telling you that you repeat yourself often or that you are making mistakes in your everyday functions such as paying your bills, forgetting to eat or keeping your appointments? Do you feel you are on the defense about your memory and are arguing with your loved ones about the mistakes they point out?
- You are finding it hard to make a decision or choose something that used to be simple for you.Do you notice you are having trouble choosing what to wear or what to order off of a menu?
- You have admitted to yourself that your memory problems scare you. You are noticing situations that cause alarms to go off in your head, such as repeatedly misplacing your wallet or purse or finding it in a strange place, like the pantry. You have been driving and suddenly did not know where you were; only to realize later that you were on a road you have driven on your entire life.
- You avoid once-favorite activities or change your routine to compensate for your memory loss or inability to make quick decisions.Because most people with early dementia are aware of some of their shortcomings, they may avoid their previously loved activities because they are concerned others will notice they’re having problems or they are struggling with their knitting or word searches. Many times people start to make detailed lists to help, but find they also have to make reminder notes to look at the to-do lists. You may even be asking others for help at this point.
- Your loved ones have been covering for you. Has your wife or husband been stepping in more often and talking or completing tasks for you? This may be a sign that your loved one has noticed you’re having problems, but is not talking to you about it. It is common for couples to compensate for their spouse who is having memory or decision-making problems.
If you identify with one or more of these examples, it would be wise to consult with your physician. The doctor can do a thorough evaluation and assess if what you are experiencing is being caused by your medication, an infection or even depression, or if you have the beginning stages of dementia.
Kristi Vaughn, LSW
I am a Licensed Social Worker and owner of Adult Comfort Care: A Person Centered in-home assisted living resource for seniors and their families.