Alzheimer’s Disease vs. Sudden Memory Loss

Alzheimer'sForgetting where you put your keys, the name of a song you just cannot get out of your head, or who was in your favorite movie, is a familiar experience for people of all ages. This type of minor memory loss becomes more common with age, but a sudden and extensive loss of important memory is a symptom that something is wrong.
The public today is much more aware of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia than in the past, and most people know that Alzheimer’s disease does not cause a sudden and profound memory loss. It shows up slowly at first and progresses over a period of years. The sudden loss of important memory (like forgetting the name of your spouse or children) is almost certainly not due to Alzheimer’s disease, no matter the age of the victim.
Transient Global Amnesia (TGA) is a condition in which the person is not able to form new memories or remember the recent past. The victim sometimes recognizes friends or relatives but cannot recall their names. Obviously, this is a very disturbing condition, but the good news is that TGA is just that, “transient.” The symptoms totally disappear in hours to days and no evidence of a stroke, seizure or other neurological problem can be found. The victim is left with understandable anxiety over the event, but there does not seem to be any lasting effect.
Age seems to be a risk factor for having an episode of TGA, with the 50+ age group most susceptible. Other cases of sudden memory loss are also more common in older people and can occur due to a variety of causes. Some medications including antidepressants and antianxiety drugs seem to impair memory in a few of the people who take them. Pain medication and alcohol abuse can either cause memory loss themselves, or make it worse in cases where a physical condition is involved. Blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering drugs (often found in seniors’ medicine cabinets) have been associated with memory loss in some people.
Physical conditions like strokes, head injuries or brain tumors are more common in older age groups and can lead to memory impairment. None of these conditions are desirable, but compared to the growing number of Alzheimer’s patients, they are not a huge problem for the medical care system. Alzheimer’s disease is! has addressed the fast-growing problem of Alzheimer’s and other dementias many times in the past. Like public health experts, knows that some solution to this problem must be found or the health care system will be overwhelmed. The providers of senior home care, senior assisted living, in-home senior care, memory care living and senior assisted living facilities are struggling even now to deal with this problem.
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