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Seek advice if you're having real memory problems

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In the weekly Health Matters column, members of Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group discuss memory loss and dementia...

We can all forget things from time to time. For many people the pressures and stresses of life can mean that remembering every event or detail can be challenging. However, if you or somebody else notices that your memory is getting worse and/or is affecting everyday life, you should seek help from your GP.

Forgetting what you went upstairs for or being unable to put a name to a face of a celebrity you see on television is something that happens to everyone, irrespective of age.

We have all had that feeling of “it’s on the tip of my tongue” and most of the time small memory slips are not serious, although there is no doubt that many people find their memory becomes less reliable as they get older.

However, if your memory is getting noticeably worse, or affecting everyday life, you should seek help as it may be a sign of a medical condition.

There are many causes of memory loss, including depression, infections and vitamin and thyroid deficiencies. In addition, memory loss can also be an early sign of dementia, especially true if you:

lStruggle to remember recent events, although you can easily recall things from the past;

lFind it hard to follow conversations or programmes on television;

lForget the names of close friends or everyday objects;

lStruggle to recall things you have heard, seen or read recently;

lRegularly lose the thread of what you are saying;

lFind yourself putting objects in unusual places, such as your keys in the fridge;

lFeel confused, even in familiar places, or get lost on familiar journeys;

lFind that people are commenting on or noticing your memory loss.

Forgetting things is not necessarily an indication of dementia, but it is worth seeing your GP if you are worried about your memory.

It’s important that we understand the reason for the problems you are experiencing, which may then enable us to provide the appropriate treatment or resource.

Sometimes it may be necessary to arrange for further investigation and you may be referred to a local memory clinic or hospital specialist for further assessment so you can get a diagnosis.

If you are concerned about someone else, rather than yourself, you could start a conversation with them by asking gently if they have been feeling any different or are struggling with anything.

It may be that it is worth booking an appointment for them with their GP, which you can attend too if they would like you to.

For people concerned they may have dementia or those with a diagnosis of dementia, as well as their families, friends and carers, there is a wide range of information available, including the Alzheimer’s Society’s National Dementia Helpline 0300 222 1122 – Saturday and Sunday: 10am – 4pm and Thursday and Friday: 9am – 5pm.

Alternatively you can visit www.alzheimers.org.uk/memoryworry

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