Frequently asked questions : I am worried about memory decline

Q: My 79yr old mother in law has quite marked dementia. She no longer recognises any family members. I noticed short term memory problems away back 30 yrs ago when I first met her. Particularly asking the same questions over and over. My concern now is my 50yr old husband (her son), over the past couple of years I have noticed slight short term memory problems. He is convinced he has never been told certain facts when in fact he has had full conversations about them. He gets very defensive when this is highlighted .He forgets to do things like pay a bill, make a phone call etc, has become very disorganised and then becomes frustrated and states

A: Thank you for this question. I think on the basis of the information provided that memory testing would be worthwhile for your husband. He would of course have to agree to this. The starting point could be a discussion with the General Practitioner who then may make the appropriate arrangements. A useful memory test for your husband to have would be the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). This should be administered by a suitably qualified person.

Q: I am worried about my memory, can I be considered for one of the research studies at Glasgow Memory Clinic?

A: You can contact us by telephone and a member of staff will take some details from you. This will involve questions about your current and past health and details of any current medications. If you are thought to be potentially suitable then an initial appointment will be arranged for you to be reviewed. This can take place within a couple of weeks and after that we will be able to give you an indication if one of our research programs might be suitable for you.

Q: I am 54yrs this month and seem to be getting progressively worse with memory loss. I forget everything including when I have arranged to meet someone and then it goes completely out of my mind. I also find it really difficult to even remember what list I am writing in the first place to help me remember what I'm doing. Is this normal at my age?

A: If you are concerned about a decline in memory function it is worthwhile having your memory tested. Many people of your age feel their memory function is poor and yet when tested it can often be found to be within the normal range. It can be difficult to be objective about ones' own memory function and the usefulness of testing is to try and find out if there is a problem or not.

Q: I am 62 years old and feel my memory is getting worse. Can I be considered for a place in the Alzheimer’s vaccine trial?

A: The starting point is to contact the centre by telephone. Following a telephone interview you may then be offered an appointment for an initial consultation and depending on how well your memory is functioning you may be considered for a current vaccine trial.

Q: I recently turned 50, but over the past year or so, have been experiencing what I believe is a deterioration in memory loss - nothing really specific - it can range from the usual forgetting where I put things and when I do eventually find them, still can't ever remember putting them there - forgetting conversations or even meeting people from the previous evening - meeting people in the street who have stopped to say hello and I have absolutely no idea who they are - and a few other small issues such as questioning whether a word is spelled correctly, been clothes shopping and forgetting I'd actually bought something. On the other hand, I've retained an incredible ability to remember numbers and can identify a whole conversation from a few notes I've jotted down in my time manager/diary! Until I gave up work about 10 years ago, I prided myself in my ability to remember names, numbers, places, dates, scenarios in line with my work in Crisis Management. The situation is definitely having an effect on my home life, where my partner gets very frustrated when I haven't done something I said I would, forgotten to pick up items when I've been shopping.... My mother puts it down to having too much trivia in my life as opposed to the fast pace working environment I was once part of. I'm a little worried that my situation will deteriorate significantly in the next few years - but am I too young for this to be of any significance at all? Apologies for the length of this question.

A: Thank you for this detailed description of your symptoms. I would recommend having your memory tested and you could discuss this with your doctor. I am not sure if you live near our research centre but you could contact us and we may be able to assist with this.

Q: My mother is 67 and starting to forget quite a number of things, mainly words or conversations had etc. She has also got problems with short term memory. Is this an early sign of Alzheimer’s?

A: Memory impairment is one of the early signs of Alzheimer's disease. The symptoms you describe should be evaluated. Many people as they get older experience a decline in memory function, particularly short term memory. For most this is viewed as part of the ageing process, without significant impact on daily life. We know however that for some the memory decline continues and eventually it becomes clear that the problem is more that what is often termed age related memory loss.



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