Don’t Forget to Talk About Memory Problems
Did you turn off the stove this morning and close your garage door? Many of us worry about developing memory problems as we age. So it's surprising that less than half of adults with memory concerns have discussed them with their doctor.
“It’s normal to become a bit absentminded as you get older, such as forgetting certain words or where you left your keys,” says Ron Shatzmiller MD MS, neurologist at PIH Health. “Usually, these issues don’t signal a serious memory problem. But if these blips concern you, talk with your doctor."
According to Dr. Shatzmiller, if you have memory problems that make it hard to do everyday activities such as shopping, driving, or communicating, it's important to see your doctor. While these symptoms can be caused by certain medicines, an infection, or depression, they can also be signs of a more serious memory problem, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. Your doctor can help you learn what’s causing the problem and how to treat it.
Prepare for Your Visit
Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your memory problems. Plan to bring the following to your visit:
- All your medicines, including prescriptions and over-the-counter remedies
- A list of your symptoms and when they occur. Try to be as specific as possible. For example, “When I go to the store, I spend a half hour searching for my car in the lot.”
If you are afraid you might forget what to bring, ask a family member or friend to help you get ready for the appointment—and maybe go with you.
What to Expect at the Visit
There is no single test that can diagnose memory problems. Your doctor may do a full physical exam and ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history.
Your doctor may also run some tests, including:
- Blood and urine tests to check for an underlying issue
- A brain scan, such as an MRI scan or CT scan
- Questions to check your thinking, language, and memory skills
Depending on the results, your doctor will explain the cause of your condition and review possible treatment options. To find a doctor go to PIHHealth.org/Doctors.
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