Dementia?

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Have been under a lot of stress and have noticed there is some memory loss. Am currently having some tests. First ones didn’t go so well. At 57 am wondering if this is the beginning of dementia? Or can stress cause this problem?

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  • Posted

    Hi Lydia

    First I can tell you personally that Stress can cause brief memory loss.

    When we are under "Overload" from stress, our brains protect us. For example when we go through a traumatic event, sometimes we can not process all of it as it is just too much to handle. Eight years ago, I was caregiver for my mom til she passed away. It took a toll on my memory but finally I recovered. 

    Now on the other hand, was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and I now experience cognitive issues.  I have trouble finding the right words to use, sometimes I stutter, and will type my words backwards.  By the way, we are the same age!  You didn't say what tests you were having, but are you seeing a neurologist?   Can I suggest that what ever is causing the Stress, try to get a handle on it, deal with it or ask someone that could help you if this is possible.  Stress can affect our bodies in many ways.  So start with trying to reduce this stress.  

    If it turns out that it could be dementia, there are medications that can help slow it down and help with memory.  Keep in touch and let me know how you're doing.

    I wish you the Best  Take Care  You may also email me here if you'd like to.

    • Posted

      thanks FaithinHim,

      much appreciated this information. Stress is very much a factor in my life and, you’re right, I really do need to get a handle on this. It’s been chronic for some time now and all my efforts have failed to stabilise my life. 

      Sorry to hear of the cognitive problems in your life, too. It’s the process of getting older. Wear and tear. I hope you can find some solution to it and lead a normal life, once again. And, yes, if this is dementia, and I am having more memory tests today, then sure there are drugs to slow down the progression. I might get an MRI to try to clarify things. Should know after today whether the consultant thinks this is serious...

  • Posted

    Hi Lydia,

    It's impossible to say whether this is the beginning of dementia without having had further tests.

    However, what I can confirm is that stress definitely causes all sorts of cognitive problems as well as memory loss. I first started having problems with forgetting or confusing words, occasionally forgetting how to operate domestic appliances etc. in my late 50s. Now, at age 73, I can't really say the problem is very much worse, and I always notice that my memory problems are worse when I'm under stress.

    I also don't think the standard mini-mental state test (which I'm assuming is what you've done) really proves much, except in those with very poor cognitive abilities. It depends quite heavily on your intelligence and what your cognitive and memory skills were like when you were younger.

    In the past 11 years I've sat in while both my mother and a friend (both sadly gone now) did the MMS test. My mother had always had extraordinary skills at mental arithmetic, so when she got to the bit about subtracting 7 from 100 and so on, she went on all the way down to 2, with no one being able to stop her. Because of this, her ability to name all the objects she was shown and to make a reasonable fist of the clock test, she scored 23 out of 30, indicating that she didn't have dementia, only very mild cognitive problems. However, she couldn't remember any of the four words she was given, even immediately afterwards, had no idea what date, season, year it was (she opined 1979 though it was 2006). More to the point, by this time she couldn't find the toilet in her own house and wasn't able to look after herself at all. We were turned down for any assistance, on the grounds she wasn't suffering from dementia.

    My friend put in a comparable performance a few years later. She was a talented artist, so was able to copy the diagram beautifully. She'd always been very good with words too, so when asked to say words beginning with a certain letter, she fired off an enormous number at high speed. Ditto with writing a sentence: she produced something quite coherent in her exquisite copperplate handwriting. When we got to the clock (supposedly the one definitive test) she drew a near-perfect circle but was unable even to guess at the positions of the numerals and hands. She had the same problem with the arithmetic test, being unable to understand what she was being asked to do, and like my mother, couldn't remember any of the four words. Ditto with date, place etc. She also received a score of 23, even though completely unable to look after herself. By this time, she was regularly being picked up by the police when she went out "shopping" during the night.

    What struck me during both these experiences was that I too was unable to remember the four words after a couple of minutes. (I was aged 62 the first time round, 67 the second.) I think I would always have had a problem with that, even when young. I've never had a good memory for that kind of thing. I would also have struggled with copying the diagram, as I've had spatial problems all my life (never able to drive, for example).

    To summarise, unless the patient scores very low indeed, I'm not convinced the mini-mental state test is all that useful.

    I haven't done any testing yet. As there's very little one can do to stave off dementia other than lifestyle measures (most of which I follow already) and given that my cognitive problems are not interfering with my life, I'd really rather not know.

    I know it's hard when you've had a scare, but try not to worry too much at this stage, as anxiety will make it even harder to remember things.

  • Posted

    Hi Lydia,

    Don't know what's going on with this thread, though I have my suspicions. I saved my reply to you, so have sent it via personal message. PMs via this site are quite safe. They don't carry viruses or expose the email address of either party.

    • Posted

      Received your message, by PM. Sent a reply. Hope you’ve received it...?
  • Posted

    Hi Lydia,

    ?Stress is a major component of temporary memory loss, it results in frustration in remembering things that previously would come into your mind almost without thinking. a sub-plot which can occur in parallel is that through stress you are not aware that you mind is working at a slightly higher level of activity in that there will always be things you are either thinking of, or which are on the periphery of your consciousness without you really being aware that they are "there".

    ?Whilst "losing words" as you speak, can be frustratingly annoying, the best way to cope with this is NOT to try harder to remember what was on the tip of your tongue, but to put the thought completely out of your mind; the missing word or phrase will come to mind a short time later, be it five minutes or thirty but at a time that you are a little more relaxed in mind.

    ?Sometimes it can be handled by finding another word or phrase that comes close to what you are trying to say, a situation where perhaps three, four of five words can be used to describe the single word which you struggle to state. If I can simplify this, you might be trying to use the word "compulsion" but cannot in that instant get it said. Find another word; say "want" instead. Treat it like a game, that way you do not become overly frustrated by the situation.

    ?I remember my own GPs words of wisdom when I went through this same stress induced frustration at losing "words".

    ?1. Learn to accept that as you get older, the body (and your brain) does not renew cells as quickly as you get older, as it did when you were younger. Your ability to remember does reduce slightly with age.

    ?2. Learn to adapt, using what brain power you have, to find another way to express yourself.

    ?3. Remember to keep breathing. This might sound a strange thing to say, but when you get stressed the body tends "tighten up" and it is not unusual to breathe "shallowly"; take a few deep, full chest/lungful breathes, this helps to induce a sense of calmness.

    ?my stress levels started at age early/mid sixties, working in a high stress job I had before always thrived in this sort of work environment; gradually though I found it harder to work at this level. I am now coming up for 72 and in the past two years was diagnosed with pre-fronta dementia, BUT this diagnosis ( made by a Consultant) was proved to be incorrect and based on the fact that my family had developed Alzheimers in the past. My brain scan was proved to be negative, and my doctor simply stated that what I had was only the normal very slight reduction in memory resultant from having retired and not using my brain to the extent as previously.

    ?Perhaps the biggest hurdle for you to get over is that you can develop self inducing injuries; stress, then frustration by worry can create a belief that seems to fit the circumstances. The speed with which this Consultant prescribed tablets to induce "calmness" simply resulted in my mind becoming full of cotton-wool and litrally shut my brain down to near zombie level. NOT recommended at all.

    ?My favourite "mind-game" at the moment is working out in my mind the answer to those adverts that state "72% of 158 customers thought this product was useful", my current average for  the correct answer is between 5 and 7 seconds!

    ?My own doctor was excellent in recommending the above three steps, adding and don't become worried about it, just remaining "calm".

    I hope this will be helpful to you.

    ?Best regards

    • Posted

      This is really informative information, thanks George 17684.

      You're right. My mind is in a constant flux, getting caught up in all the little distractions that are going on all around me. I need to somehow detach myself from this so I can calm my mind down and then I can do more productive things in my time rather than dwelling on things that are not healthy for me.

      Noted those things you recommend to try to calm my nerves. Also it has been mentioned quite a few times to me now that exercising more would help to reduce inflammation of adrenaline flooding my body which is having a profound affect on my physical health too.

      I need to get a handle on the stress levels in my life so I can take full control of that once more. Thank you for taking the time to address my concerns. Appreciated...

  • Posted

    Hi Lydia,

    I'm sorry to read that you're worrying about the possibility of having dementia. You're young to receive a diagnosis of dementia, but it isn't impossible.

    Yes, stress certainly causes memory impairments. It really may be all caused by stress - or you may be starting to have dementia. Have you had any problems figuring out how to use, for example, familiar kitchen appliances? Or any difficulties finding things in your house? Or not being able to figure out how to hang clothes up?

    Any or all of those things could point to dementia far more than memory loss. I hope you keep in touch and let us know how you get on. Whatever your results, the people on this forum will help you.

    • Posted

      Yes, definitely, stress is a big factor in this and I need to get a grip on it, try and modify its effects on me.

      Sometimes I forget where I have placed things in my property, yes, indeed. I have had those memory tests and should be getting the results on Tuesday. Won't panic until I hear what the consultant has to say. Then I can see what my choices are, but I do need to get this stress under control...

  • Posted

    Hello,

     Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain. Symptoms of dementia

    Each person is unique and will experience dementia in their own way. The different types of dementia also tend to affect people differently, especially in the early stages. Other factors that will affect how well someone can live with dementia include how other people respond to them and the environment around them

    -  day-to-day memory – for example, difficulty recalling events that happened recently

    - concentrating, planning or organising – for example, difficulties making decisions, solving problems or carrying out a sequence of tasks (such as cooking a meal)

    - language – for example, difficulties following a conversation or finding the right word for something 

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