Memory problems are just a part of growing older, or are they? | downtown-houston

Posted on August 17, 2012



symptom comparison between delirium, depression and dementia


How many times have you heard or said something like this when memory issues arise?

“I have a touch of the old timer’s disease.”

“I have a photographic memory but sometimes I don’t have film.”

“I’m directionally challenged”

“Who moved my keys, I know I laid them RIGHT HERE.”

I don’t know about you but it seems to happen to me more as I climb in years.  The older we get the longer it can take us to process information so people need to give us a little bit longer to answer their questions.

click to enlarge

However, there is a difference between slower processing of information and information not being accessible, or not being there at all.  Don’t think that confusion or memory loss are normal parts of the game of life, they aren’t.  But, elder health care is complicated and many people don’t ask the right questions so they don’t get the right answer.

Depression, delirium and dementia can mask one another and that is a problem for medical professionals.  (see insert)  But a new study raises alarm bells and let’s all of us know that we need to make sure the right questions are being asked, the quality and length of a life may depend on it.

A new study shows that older patients who suffer from bouts of delirium may be at future risk of new dementia and cognitive decline.  The study of patients age 85 or older demonstrated that those with a history of delirium were almost nine times more likely to develop new dementia than those who were never delirious.  Delirium or it’s causes could be a cause of dementia.

This is important because delirium is a common complication of hospitalization among people ages 65 and over.  The numbers are staggering, as many as 20% of those admitted to hospitals, 60% of those who have certain surgeries, and 70% or more of those treated in ICUs develop delirium.

Hospital staffs often aren’t concerned about confusion and disorientation among their older patients but the study indicates that this delirium may be actually causing brain damage.  In addition to delirium increasing the risk of incident dementia almost nine-fold, it was also associated with worsening dementia severity and a faster rate of decline in mental capacity.

The study was limited because it didn’t assess depression, which has a complex relationship with dementia.

Since some delirium is preventable it’s plausible that prevention of delirium may lead to prevention of dementia.  Karin Neufeld, MD, of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, stated that healthcare professionals “need to redouble efforts to detect and prevent delirium in hospitalized patients.”

And, whether it is your life or the life of a loved one, you need to take charge of the situation and get the right answers.  How you spend the rest of your life depends on it.

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via Memory problems are just a part of growing older, or are they? | downtown-houston.