Does it help if you seek help early for a dementia condition?
Yes, medication can improve memory and these medications have the greatest effect in the early stages of the illness.

Is poor memory in an elderly person normal?
Poor memory in older adults isn’t normal and cannot be assumed to be due to Alzheimer’s disease. It should always be investigated to determine the correct diagnosis and treatment.

What are the best types of memory exercises?
There’s no real scientific evidence to show that one form of activity may be better than another in order to exercise memory. The best type of memory stimulation is to always partake in an activity that is novel or new. Nothing beats socialisation, attending meetings, and participating in senior club activities.

Avoid repetitive exercises that don’t stimulate the formation of new connections in the brain. An example of such an activity is knitting the same pattern repeatedly.

Can I exercise my memory and thus avoid Alzheimer’s disease altogether?
By exercising your memory, your brain benefits from stimulation and will form new connections. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to stop the onset of Alzheimer’s disease if you’re destined to have this illness. Mental exercises may only postpone the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Are there any vitamins and herbal supplements that an elderly person can take to improve memory?
Many products are being advertised for the improvement of memory. Vitamin E is the only vitamin that has been proven in scientific studies to make a difference.

One particular study was done in advanced Alzheimer’s disease and most scientists in memory clinics extrapolate from this that vitamin E could improve memory in other stages of the illness. Whether it does improve memory in persons not affected by dementia is controversial and not proven.

However, it may be the closest thing to a memory vitamin.

What are the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease?
Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease include age, specific gene types, family history, head injury, low education and high systolic blood pressure.

Is it true that elderly people often seek help too late?
People often don’t seek help early enough because motivation to seek help is usually also affected. In addition, family and friends may often wait too long before seeking professional help for their loved ones.

Can I have my memory tested to make sure that it’s normal?
Yes, a short memory test is available that can determine if your memory is still within normal limits. More exhaustive testing is also available.

When is my memory impaired?
We all tend to forget important things from time to time and it may sometimes be difficult to work out when your memory is impaired. Your memory is impaired when you can’t function in normal everyday activities. When you consistently forget important information and are not able to function at work or at home.

What is the most common cause of loss of memory?
In the elderly, it’s Alzheimer’s disease. Other causes in this age group include depression, anxiety, strokes, thyroid deficiency and vitamin deficiencies.

Does Alzheimer’s disease only cause memory impairment or are other brain functions also involved?
Memory is but one aspect of brain functioning affected in Alzheimer’s disease. Associated symptoms include: poor organisation and planning abilities, incomprehensible speech and difficulty finding words, poor concentration, inability to identify objects, inability to perform a complex sequence of motor actions, changes in personality, and depression and anxiety.

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