Wellness Wednesday: I Can’t Find My Car Keys!

Losing memory like dementia or forgetting bad memories

Does your relative or friend have dementia?  Do they forget dates and lose items regularly? Do they get lost easily?  Well, you may be dealing with someone who has dementia.

Before I go into types of dementias, let us do a test.  Work with me here. First I want you ask the person to remember three items. A BALL, a PEN and a TREE.   Tell them not to forget these three items.  Next tell them to spell WORLD forward then ask them to spell it backwards. Now ask them to subtract 7 from 100 and keep subtracting 7 as far as they can go.

Then ask them to tell you what were the three items you told them to remember?  The last two things you asked them to do, the spelling backwards and the subtraction, was an effort to distract them from remembering the three items.  This simple test was to see if there was a problem with short term memory.  If they could not remember the three items, they may have a type of dementia.

One of the characteristics of dementia is loss of short term memory.  You forget what you just said or did.

One of the characteristics of dementia is loss of short term memory.  You forget what you just said or did.


Risk Factors

The word dementia in medicine really is a broad description of symptoms that include memory loss, word-finding difficulties, impaired judgment and problems with day-to-day activities. These are caused by damage to or loss of brain cells called neurons. The risk factors for dementia include a family history of dementia, hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and heavy use of alcohol.

To be medically accurate when diagnosing a patient with dementia, a physician should follow this with the specific type of dementia. Is it Alzheimer’s type dementia?  Lewy Body dementia?  Dementia associated with Parkinson’s disease?  Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or Kuru dementia?

This latter dementia, Kuru, is very interesting.  It is a rare and fatal brain disorder that occurred at epidemic levels from the 1950s to 1960s.  It is caused by an infectious protein or prion found in, listen to this, contaminated human brain tissue.  It was diagnosed in an isolated tribe in the mountains of Papua New Guinea who practice a form of cannibalism.  The custom was that the brains of deceased relatives were to be eaten by their living family as a sign of respect. Dementia was noted to be passed on from one generation to the next.  Eating the brain of the deceased demented relatives transmitted the prion to the other family members.  Even today in medical schools around the country, medical students have to wear gloves especially when examining the cadaver’s brain.

Another type of dementia is associated with eating beef products contaminated with central nervous system tissue from other animals.  The dementia is called bovine spongiform encephalopathy or ‘mad cow’ disease.  Maybe this is a good time to become a vegetarian?

When to Have Your Head Examined

Well, how would I know if I or a relative is developing dementia.  The following are 6 common early symptoms of dementia. Go ahead and test yourself.

1.  Memory loss

2.  Difficulty concentrating

3.  Finding it hard to do familiar daily tasks

4. Getting lost in places you should be familiar with

5. Having difficulty finding the right words in a conversation

6. Mood changes

Did you pass? If you did, great!  Having one or two of the above, does necessarily label you as having dementia.  You may just be stressed out.  Stress, a topic for another article.

If you didn’t pass, there is hope. For although as of this publication there is no cure for dementia, there are treatment options that your primary care provider has at their disposal.  Some medications have shown positive results in slowing down the progress of dementia.

Not So Fast!

Here are some ways for us to slow down the process of dementia. According to John’s Hopkins University, “a healthy heart can lead to a healthy brain.”  An article published recently listed six health choices and lifestyle changes that can make a difference in your dementia risk. They are the following:

  1. Control high blood pressure
  2. Control diabetes
  3. Quit smoking
  4. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  5. Get more physical activity
  6. Eat more berries, fish and leafy green vegetables.

I hope this article was informative and helpful to you. Now, can someone please help me find my keys? I seem to have lost them.



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