How To Treat Memory Loss
There are many forms of memory loss, and its type will determine how to treat memory loss. The most common cause of memory loss is a group of disorders called Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Included in the Alzheimer’s group are Parkinson’s disease, frontal lobe dementia and vascular dementia. These disorders are not the only reason for memory loss. Other causes must be ruled out before these disorders can be diagnosed.
- Each memory loss disorder has its own treatment. Treatments are different for the cognitive symptoms and the behavioral and psychiatric symptoms of each disorder. Cognitive symptoms involve memory loss and decrease in judgment, thinking, concentration and language skills. Behavioral and psychiatric symptoms deal with the person’s outbursts, delusions, hallucinations and emotional distress.
- In Alzheimer’s disease, a chemical messenger in the brain called acetylcholine breaks down and nerve cells are unable to communicate properly, causing memory loss and loss of learning ability. Cholinesterase inhibitors help to keep the levels of acetylcholine higher for a period of time and delay symptoms from getting worse. Some of the most common prescribed cholinesterase inhibitors are Aricept, Exelon and Razadyne. Namenda is often prescribed to help regulate another chemical messenger which is involved called glutamate. Which medication is prescribed depends on what stage of Alzheimer’s the patient is in.
- In Parkinson’s disease, when nerve cells that make the neurotransmitter dopamine are lost, signals affecting muscle movement cannot be transmitted. This loss affects facial expressions and arm and leg movements. Before symptoms are recognized, from 50 to 80 percent of the cells may be already lost. Levodopa or dopamine agonists may be given to stimulate activity. There are some surgeries that can be done that target the problem area in the brain such as ablation, deep brain stimulation and pallidotomy that may help control symptoms. Physical therapy, walking, swimming and other physical activities can strengthen the muscles and help build up the strength in the body.
- Frontal lobe dementia, often genetic, causes shrinking in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. It involves changes in behavior or language problems. There is no treatment that has been established, but antidepressants may help, or medications may be given to help with aggressive behavior.
- Vascular dementia is caused by problems with the blood vessels that go to the brain. If the blood vessels get blocked or narrow, it can cause a stroke which results in vascular dementia. Not all strokes cause this condition. There is no available treatment, so prevention is critical.
- There are many other causes of memory loss. Some of these causes and treatments are: anxiety – anti-anxiety drugs; ADHD – stimulants; depression - antidepressants; thyroid disease – thyroid hormone; diabetes – diet, exercise, medications; drug and alcohol dependence – cessation of abuse; vitamin deficiencies – replace vitamin; brain infections – antibiotics; medications – adjust dosage; head injuries - medication and therapy; and, fluid on the brain – shunt.
With our busy lives, we often think about too many things at a time. Focusing on one thing at a time can help improve memory.
Using sticky notes and lists can remind you of things you have to do. If you have lot of things to do, use a daily planner or a calendar to write them down.
Put items in a regular place so you will know where to find them.
Check any medications you take to see if they could cause you memory loss or confusion when combined.
Try to keep the stress in your life at a minimum, if possible.
Ask your doctor about taking ginkgo biloba, an herbal treatment to help your memory.
Other things that can be done to help prevent memory loss are eating healthy, getting enough sleep and keeping your mind active.