Memory changes cause concern to many patients as they grow older. Gary Small provides reassurance and gives a strategy for assessing age related memory loss and protecting brain health
As doctors and scientists have focused more attention on Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, patients are expressing greater concern about their common, age related memory changes. When results of new research on early detection and prevention reach a wider audience, our patients often come to the office with questions about what they can do to preserve their memory abilities as they age. Many of today's doctors trained during a time when minimal information was provided on these topics during their medical training. This paper will provide a practical strategy for assessing age related memory loss and will discuss interventions that may or may not protect brain health.
- Patients with mild memory loss are common in clinical practice; if their symptoms warrant a diagnosis of dementia, treatment with cholinesterase inhibitor drugs is needed
- Doctors need to be cautious about unproved treatments for slowing brain ageing because of potential side effects
- Lifestyle choices may protect people with mild forms of age related memory loss from future decline: essentially, what is healthy for the body is healthy for the brain
- The risks of these interventions are minimal and are not likely to outweigh the manybenefits