Tanya Sklierenko (Markland Wood Pharmacy) for New Pathway, Toronto.
Memory loss is known as an abnormal degree of forgetfulness or the inability to recall past events. It occurs when the connections between the brain cells are weakened due to various factors (i.e. increasing age, psychological conditions, trauma, medications, alcohol abuse etc). Connections between brain cells allow the brain to transmit, store and retrieve information in an orderly manner. Therefore, strengthening the connections between the brain cells or creating new connections can help to prevent memory loss.
Memory loss is often associated with increasing age and conditions such as dementia. The most common form of dementia in adults over 65 years of age is Alzheimer’s disease. This is a progressive form of memory loss and cognitive decline whereby an individual loses thinking and language skills and the ability to perform day-to-day activities.
There are 3 stages of Alzheimer’s disease. In the Early (Mild) stage, people may forget words or misplace objects, forget something they just read, ask the same question over and over, or not remember names when meeting new people.
In the Middle (Moderate) stage of Alzheimer’s disease, people may have trouble recognizing family and friends, difficulty in handling personal finances such as paying bills, lack of concern for hygeine and appearance, and may need help in choosing proper clothing to wear for the season or occasion.
In the Late (Severe) stage of Alzhiemer’s disease, there is almost total memory loss. People may recognize faces but forget names, have delusions such as think they must go to work even though they no longer have a job. People in the Severe stage of Alzheimer’s lose basic abilities such as eating, walking and sitting up. They may not recognize when they are hungry or thirsty and will thus need help with all day-to-day activitires.
There are many different medications that can help delay memory loss related to Alzheimer’s disease. The main class of medication used is called cholinesterase inhibitors. These include donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine. Choice between these agents are based on medical history, individual tolerance and stage of Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin supplementation to prevent memory loss is controversial. Some clical studies have shown that vitamin B12, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids may provide benefits in preventing memory loss. It is important though, to discuss any vitamin supplementation with your pharmacist to ensure the product is right for you and that it does not interact with any of your medications or medical conditions.
How to combat memory loss!
You can help minimize your risk of memory loss by completing simple, everyday activities that stimulate the brain. Regular reading or playing games like sudoku can strenghten the brain’s ability to function. Learning is a great way to stimulate the brain and build new pathways. Learning how to play a new board game or even a new instrument can help to combat memory loss as well.
Try out these activities to improve your memory! Answers at the bottom.