Problems with memory, judgment, or problem solving
Adults of all ages occasionally forget where they put their keys or
glasses, where they parked their car, or the name of an acquaintance. Older
adults may take longer to retrieve memories. Although this is a normal part of
aging, not all older adults experience memory changes. This type of memory
problem is more often annoying than serious.
Memory loss that begins suddenly or that significantly interferes
with daily life may indicate a more serious problem.
I didn't know anything about Alzheimer's before my mother and
my stepfather developed it at roughly the same time in the spring of 2005. I
was living outside of Portland, Oregon; they were living in Mission, Texas.
They were 86 and 84, respectively. I had tried to talk them into moving to an
assisted-living community in Portland previously, but they always said they
were doing fine. So I was surprised when my mother called one morning out of
the blue and said, "We need help."
My husband and...
Dementia is a general
decline in a person's mental abilities that is severe enough to interfere with
daily living and activities. It affects memory, problem solving, learning, and
other mental functions. It may occur over several weeks to several months.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia in older
Delirium (acute confusional state)
is a sudden change in a person's mental status, leading to confusion and
unusual behavior. Symptoms of delirium usually develop over the course of
several hours to a few days and may fluctuate.
Amnesia is memory loss that may be caused by
a head injury, a stroke, substance abuse, or a severe emotional event, such as
combat or a motor vehicle accident. Depending upon the cause, amnesia may be
either temporary or permanent.
Treatment depends on the cause of symptoms. A health professional can
evaluate symptoms and recommend treatment.
Jan Nissl, RN, BS
Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Primary Medical Reviewer
William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
January 13, 2009
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
January 13, 2009
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