Forgetting where you put your glasses or keys is a common trend even in younger adults. As we age, it seems that forgetfulness becomes more problematic and occurs more often, but what causes memory loss to begin with, and how can you tell if it’s something more serious? Understanding common memory loss causes is an important first step in determining if it might be a serious condition.
Memory Loss Cause #1 – Depression
Severe depression or grief can sometimes lead to forgetfulness and memory loss. Feelings of sadness, extreme grief at the loss of a loved one and or enduring other emotional trauma can result in feeling ‘out of touch’, or ‘in a fog’ and forgetting small details. Depression especially in older men and women can result in forgetfulness, which can worsen if it remains untreated.
Memory Loss Cause #2 – edication Side Effects
Some medications are known to cause memory loss. In most cases, stopping the medication will result in a complete recovery of memory function. Since many elderly men and women take a wide range of medications, it is possible that one or more of the medications could trigger memory loss symptoms.
Memory Loss Cause #3 – Vitamin Deficiency
Individuals who do not have enough Vitamin B12 in their diet can suffer from memory loss. Vitamin B12 is important for healthy brain functioning, and can often be overlooked as a source of memory problems in the elderly. Prolonged deficiency can lead to permanent damage, but if it is caught early and treated, the memory loss may be only temporary.
Memory Loss Cause #4 – Thyroid Problems
Though problems with the thyroid are known for changing weight and metabolism, thyroid dysfunction can also lead to memory loss. Hypothyroidism is particularly known for causing memory problems as the body becomes less able to absorb the nutrients provided by foods. Fortunately, thyroid problems are treatable and a simple blood test can provide answers about whether thyroid functioning is the cause of memory loss or not.
Memory Loss Cause #5 – Insomnia
Too little sleep is not healthy for the body in myriad wys, especially when it relates to brain functioning and memory. Insomnia or lack of sleep can cause problems with concentration or focusing on details or tasks, resulting in forgetfulness and confusion.
Memory Loss Cause #6 – Medication Interactions
While we mentioned medication side effects as one cause of memory problems, individuals taking several medications might have forgetfulness symptoms as a result of interactions between the medications. While the medications by themselves might not cause forgetfulness, memory loss from interactions is possible.
Memory Loss Cause #7 – Dehydration
Dehydration is a common problem for older adults, and severe cases of dehydration can cause dementia-like symptoms. Ensuring an elderly individual drinks plenty of water each day can reverse memory loss from dehydration. The ideal amount of water for adult men and women at any age is at least six to eight glasses per day.
Memory Loss Cause #8 – Trauma to the Head
Head trauma from a fall or accident can cause memory loss due to damage to the brain. Unfortunately, this type of memory loss is often not recoverable due to brain cell damage.
Memory Loss Cause #9 – Dementia
Dementia of any kind, such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia With Lewy Bodies, are common causes of memory loss in elderly individuals. While not all older adults suffer from memory-related diseases, the risk of developing dementia increases with age.
Memory Loss Cause #10 – Brain Tumors
Tumors in the brain can sometimes cause symptoms similar to dementia. The tumor kills brain cells as it grows, resulting in memory loss. Depending on the location of the tumor, the amount of memory loss will differ between individuals.
It’s important to recognize when memory loss causes a deeper level of concern. While many older adults might have some forgetfulness, when the lack of memory starts to interfere with normal functioning it is a sign that medical intervention might be necessary. Memory loss is often treatable and even curable, but, as with any medical condition, the prognosis depends on the cause.