• Understanding what is and isn't "normal" memory loss

    A lot of us are over-scheduled, stressed, scattered and often a little forgetful.  Does being forgetful mean we have to start worrying about memory loss related to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia?  We sat down with Jim Wessler, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association for the Massachusetts and New Hampshire chapter. Jim was able to clarify what is normal and abnormal memory loss.

    Oftentimes when people age they become more forgetful and experience some sort of memory loss. Wessler explained that normal age-related or situational memory loss is on a smaller scale. For example, being unable to remember a movie star you saw in a film two nights ago or being unable to remember a restaurant you ate at while on vacation. 

    It is seen as more than age-related or situational memory loss when the things we should be remembering are being forgotten.  For example, instead of forgetting the restaurant you ate at while on vacation, you forgot that you went on vacation. Some other examples would be forgetting a spouse’s birthday, forgetting a grandchild's name, and forgetting you went places that you recently visited.

    When people being to question their memory or if they are experiencing something more than just age-related or situational memory loss it is important to get a thorough medical evaluation for Alzheimer’s disease.  Too many people don’t get examined in fear of the results and fear for their future.

    When people go through medical evaluations, it is often to try and rule out Alzheimer’s disease and diagnose a condition that is treatable such as depression, alcoholism or vitamin deficiency.

    An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can help with the early planning for the future. Alzheimer’s is a progressive, degenerative and fatal disease.

    Boston is currently a hub for Alzheimer’s research and prevention trials.  Participation in these trials can result in help from therapeutic drugs.  Wessler explained the current research in bio marker research resulting in the discovery of ten proteins that could indicate that a person later in life could develop Alzheimer’s disease.  

    Wessler said it is important to diagnose the disease before the symptoms hit because the symptoms come after the destruction of brain cells has already started. Early diagnosis that is pre-symptomatic may allow for medical treatments that would help to prevent or slow the disease.  

    For more information you can visit http://www.alz.org/manh/

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