Bethlehem Press

Friday, January 17, 2020

Healthy Geezer: Memory lapses

Friday, November 1, 2019 by FRED CICETTI Special to The Press in Focus

First of two parts

Q. How can you tell when you should go to a doctor for memory lapses?

When should you go to your doctor to discuss your memory lapses? That’s a personal judgment call.

I’ve found that I can’t remember the names of movie stars and ballplayers the way I used to. I attribute this to what I call the “overloaded filing cabinet.” As we get older, we accumulate so many memories that it’s impossible to find the one we want.

I’m not sufficiently worried about my memory difficulties to mention them to my doctor. But if you are worried, get tested.

The unfunny truth is that Alzheimer’s begins with difficulty remembering the familiar: people, things, events. Or, you start having trouble doing simple arithmetic in your head. These annoyances are common to seniors with healthy brains, so most of us don’t get too worked up over them.

As Alzheimer’s progresses, it can make people forget how to brush their teeth or change channels on a TV. And it gets worse until patients require complete care.

If you’re having some memory lapses that worry you, go to the doctor with a positive attitude. The fact is that many different medical conditions may cause Alzheimer’s-like symptoms.

Some of these medical conditions may be treatable. You could be suffering from the effects of a high fever, dehydration, poor nutrition, reactions to medicines, thyroid problems or a minor head injury.

And then there are those pesky emotions. Feeling sad, lonely, worried, or bored can affect people facing retirement or coping with the death of a loved one. Adapting to change can make you forgetful.

There are benefits to an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Knowing early helps patients and their families plan for the future.

It gives them time to discuss care while the patient can still participate in decisions. Early diagnosis also offers the best chance to treat the symptoms of the disease.

Scientists are working to develop new drugs to treat Alzheimer’s. Although research is helping us learn more about the disease, we still do not know what causes Alzheimer’s, and there is no cure.

Next week: Memory and aging

Have a question? Email: fred@healthygeezer.com. Order “How To Be A Healthy Geezer,” 218-page compilation of columns: healthygeezer.com

All Rights Reserved © 2019 Fred Cicetti

The Times News, Inc., and affiliates (Lehigh Valley Press) do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the columnist and column do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Lehigh Valley Press. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician regarding a medical condition.