Beaufort Memorial’s Living Well Blog brings health and wellness to Lowcountry living.

Alzheimer's vs. Aging

Posted by Living Well Team on Sep 20, 2016 5:00:59 PM

Forgetfulness isn’t a rite of passage for the aging. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, memory loss that affects daily living can be a symptom of dementia. Dementia — a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills — is commonly referred to by its’ most common form, a fatal brain disorder called Alzheimer’s disease.

Your memory shouldn’t get worse as you get older, says Beaufort Memorial neurologist Paul Mazzeo, M.D. “You may not retain trivial facts, but you shouldn’t be forgetting important information,” he says. “If your short-term memory is impaired or worsening, that’s a particularly concerning sign.” 

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There’s a difference between forgetting where you left your keys and forgetting names and recent events. Forgetfulness — especially the kind that makes someone seem different than they once were — is a sign to take action and seek out help, according to Dr. Mazzeo. Because therapies and medications that lessen symptoms work best when they are started early, it’s important to be evaluated as soon as cognitive problems arise.

Dr. Mazzeo cautions caregivers to not wait until a loved one experiences a noticeable change in function before seeking out medical attention. An inability to perform complex tasks such as driving a car or using a computer can be changes that actually began years earlier with memory difficulty.

“Don’t accept memory loss as an inevitable result of getting older,” says Dr. Mazzeo, director of the Beaufort Memorial Memory Center. “We have a variety of treatments — including medications, cognitive rehabilitation and access to clinical research trials — that help significantly.” 

Learn more about the Beaufort Memorial Memory Center or schedule an appointment for a neurological evaluation by calling 843-707-8833.

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