Let’s admit it: We’re all a bit forgetful from time to time. Someone’s name may slip our mind, or we can’t figure out where we left our eyeglasses. Memory loss is often attributed to the aging process but there are many reasons our memories might fail. Below are five common culprits.
Too Many Meds. Memory loss may occur if you’re taking several medications. Also known as “polypharmacy,” studies have shown that 12% of all dementia cases are actually caused by taking multiple meds. Play it safe by asking your primary healthcare provider and your pharmacist to review your medications (including vitamins, supplements, and over–the–counter products) to determine if any drug combinations might result in an adverse reaction.
Silent Stroke. Did you realize you could have a stroke without knowing it? These quiet killers can result in memory lapses, yet not show any other symptoms. One study determined that approximately 10% of middle-aged individuals had actually suffered from a “silent stroke.” Exercise, weight management, and keeping an eye on your blood sugar and cholesterol can help keep silent strokes at bay.
B12 Deficiency. Don’t forget to take this important vitamin, which helps the central nervous system function properly. Numerous studies have shown that a lack of B12 can lead to forgetfulness and confusion. Researchers have discovered that people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s often have low levels of B12. Thankfully, medical experts say some of these problems can be reversed by adding B12 to the diet.
Urinary Tract Infections. It’s quite common for senior citizens, especially women, to suffer from uncomfortable urinary tract infections. Unfortunately, these infections can also cause memory problems, depression, and other behavioral changes that can mimic dementia. Cognitive function typically returns once the condition is successfully treated.
Sleep Apnea. According to the Cleveland Clinic, abnormal breathing during sleep can cause a variety of cognitive problems, including memory loss. A New York University study revealed that individuals suffering from sleep apnea were often diagnosed 10 years earlier. A study presented in 2020 at a meeting held by the American Academy of Neurology also found a direct correlation between sleep apnea and cognitive impairment. Study author Mark I. Boulos, MD, of the University of Toronto, Canada emphasized that most cases of sleep apnea-induced dementia can be successfully treated by a medical specialist.
Many forms of memory loss can be corrected with prompt treatment. Talk with your health care provider if you are worried about persistent forgetfulness, since it may be a sign of something more than normal aging.