The thought of losing the ability to think and care for oneself strikes fear in the heart of most any person. Just imagine not recognizing loved ones, being totally dependent on others for your basic needs or having to reside in a nursing home – it’s not a pleasant thought. Although memory loss is normally associated with old age, it can affect younger persons including baby boomers (ages 50-65). Fortunately, however when memory loss or other symptoms are experienced by baby boomers, it is likely not caused by dementia, but instead by normal age-associated cognitive decline combined with other factors such as sleep disorders, stress, depression or prescription drug side effects. This often is referred to a brain fog and fortunately is very treatable.
According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal (“Baby Boomers, Relax. It Probably Isn’t Dementia”), Dr. Marc Agronin describes how as a geriatric psychiatrist he is seeing more and more baby boomers complaining of increasing memory lapses and other cognitive issues. While noting that such symptoms warrant careful assessment, it is more likely that the symptoms are not due to dementia, but rather to an overtaxed brain. Dr. Agronin explains how the processing speed of the brain slows down as we age and when that is combined with lack of sleep, stress, depression, medication, or other factors, it can cause symptoms similar to dementia like memory lapses. Fortunately, with some lifestyle changes and if appropriate, medication, the symptoms can be treated.
If you have experienced memory lapses or cognitive issues, Dr. Agronin recommends that you be seen by a neurologist or geriatric psychiatrist for a thorough assessment. Fortunately, your fears of dementia will likely be overblown.