Everyday struggles to remember things like names and shopping lists are most likely a part of your aging parent’s life.
But there are types of memory loss that will warrant either an immediate visit to the doctor or at least be put on the list of important things to discuss at your parent’s next doctor visit. If you or his elder care provider notice any of these memory losses, take the appropriate action as soon as it’s warranted.
Sudden Memory Loss Or Confusion
If your parent suddenly doesn’t remember who he is (or who you are) or is confused about what is going on around him, it could be an indication that he is having a stroke. If it is paired with slurred speech or paralysis, get him immediate help by bringing him to an emergency room or calling 9-1-1.
Significant Memory Loss After Starting Or Changing A Medication
Mixing medications (even mixing prescribed medications with over-the-counter medications) can cause brain function issues, including memory loss and confusion. When your parent starts a new medication, make sure the prescribing doctor is aware of everything he takes, both prescription and over the counter. New medications can sometimes take a while for the body to adjust to, so being aware of possible side affects is important and something you and his elder care provider should watch for.
Memory Loss After A Fall
Even if your parent didn’t lose consciousness after a fall, he may have obtained a mild concussion. He may not realize he hit his head as hard as he did. A concussion causes damage to the brain and should be evaluated to ensure there isn’t more damage done.
Memory Loss Combined With Other Loss Of Functions
If it seems your parent is not only forgetting things but having problems daily self-care, managing routine tasks such as paying bills or doing the laundry, and making decisions, it might be his memory loss is an indicator of dementia. While your elder care provider can help with many of these tasks, it’s important to get your parent in to get a diagnosis so you can enlist a team of health care professionals to help you on this journey.
Memory Loss Combined With Depression
If your parent is clinically depressed, he may not be able to remember the simple things. Helping him find help for his depression will also help his memory.
Memory Loss Due To Alcohol Consumption
Heavy drinking and binge drinking can cause permanent damage to the brain. After years of habitually abusing alcohol, your parent may find his memory is not working as well as it should. While stopping drinking should be able to help him build and remember new events, he will not be able to regain those old memories.
If your parent is suffering from normal, everyday memory loss, you and your elder care provider can help by providing the resources and support he needs to live a fully functional life. But if you find your parent’s memory loss is impacting his quality of life, it’ll be important to discuss those concerns with his physician sooner rather than later.