By: Chris Dunlap, MD
When the occasional memory lapse strikes, I sometimes wonder, “Am I losing my mind?” Probably not, but sometimes I sure feel that way!
The truth is that all of us have momentary lapses in memory. Where are my keys? What did I come in here for? What was the name of that person I just met? All of these are normal, everyday glitches that most of us experience.
When should you be concerned about your memory? When your memory lapses begin to interfere with your normal daily functioning you should probably come to your primary physician for a checkup. Problems like forgetting important appointments or conversations with your family or friends can be a sign of underlying medical issues. Getting lost while driving in a familiar setting or having difficulty balancing your checkbook are also key warning signs that something may be wrong.
Your doctor has the tools needed to check for simple things like thyroid problems or a medication side effects. Memory tests given in the office can either reassure a patient that all is well or find subtle clues that further testing is needed. While there is still no mainstream test to diagnose dementia, there are several things that can be done to look for medical problems that may affect your memory.
While there is no cure for dementia, there are medications available that may help you. More importantly, finding resources and support from your physician, your family and friends, and the community are all very valuable. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor. They are more than willing to find you help in your time of need.
In addition, you can find information on the internet that can be very helpful. The Alzheimer’s Association has a website that has a wealth of information. Go to www.alz.org to find answers to your questions.
Problems with memory are common. When the minor annoyances become more of a major concern then you know the time is right to see your physician. Early detection is important. Don’t put off getting an evaluation.
By the way, have you seen my glasses? I know I left them somewhere….