Monday, March 10, 2008

How can you tell if you've got memory problems?

Women who do too much classically suffer from CRS (can't remember you-know-what).

Overwhelmed and inattentive, we hurry with great purpose into the kitchen and arrive clueless as to why we're there. At what point, however, does distracted crossover to demented?

While people with age-associated memory deficits may have difficulty recalling names and retrieving information, their day-to-day functioning remains normal. Dr. Julie Fago of the Center for Aging at Dartmouth Medical School lists the following warning signs indicating when "brain freeze" may be progressing to Alzheimer's dementia.

* Inability to follow a complex train of thought, such as cooking a meal
* Trouble formulating problem-solving plans
* Difficulty finding the way in familiar places
* Increasing difficulty finding words or following conversations
* Increasing passive, unresponsive, irritable or suspicious behavior
* Misinterpretation of visual or auditory stimuli

So it's not a problem when patients forget they had an appointment with me (at least it's not a problem with respect to the long-term outlook for their brain). A cause for worry would be if they missed their follow-up visit because they couldn't find my office.


Mauigirl said...

Yes, the getting lost thing seems to be a key indicator. My father, who was never great at directions to begin with, began to have many more problems with getting lost at the beginning of his downturn into dementia.

Femail doc said...

MG: I always worry when I go the wrong way while driving, but so far it's 100% going on autopilot, as in taking the usual turn home or officeward rather than the appropriate direction to an unusual destination.