Memory Loss

Our physicians use the latest treatment options and evidence-based medicine to fight this common condition in older adults

Memory loss has serious effects on your health and can result from a number of different conditions. At IU Health, our physicians use the latest treatment options and evidence-based medicine to fight your memory loss.

Memory loss can put you or a loved one at higher risk of falls and accidents. It can leave you unable to follow healthy habits like exercising and eating right. You (or your loved one) can no longer participate in your healthcare and any health condition, injury or illness, affects you more than it would for a healthy older adult.

If you care for someone with memory loss, you may experience increased levels of stress and anxiety. Over time, the stress can take its toll on your health. Caregivers need coordinated care programs, support groups and regular appointments with their own primary care physicians to ensure their own health.

Cause

Memory loss caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is a growing health problem affecting seniors. Alzheimer’s disease alone is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Memory loss greatly impacts the lives of patients and their families, causing depression and other health conditions not only in the patient, but in caregivers as well.

Diagnosis

Early diagnosis of memory loss can slow the condition and improve your (or your loved one’s) overall health. The following diagnostic tests may help your physician determine the cause and extent of your (or your loved one’s) memory loss:

  • Laboratory testing. Nutrient deficiencies or other problems may contribute to memory loss. Physicians at IU Health take blood samples and run tests to ensure the proper balance of vitamins and nutrients. Niacin, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D impact brain function, including memory. As you age, you may lose the ability to properly absorb and process these nutrients, leading to nutrient deficiencies. Diet and vitamin supplements may help correct memory loss. Other conditions such as hypothyroidism can affect your memory. Women over the age of 60 risk developing this condition and experiencing difficulty concentrating or remembering.
  • Mental exam. To determine the extent of memory loss and loss of other cognitive functions, we perform a mental exam. During this exam, your physician asks you and your family a variety of questions about your day-to-day life. If you find it increasingly difficult to perform tasks such as paying bills, cooking or other daily activities, you may have dementia. Understanding how your mental health has changed gives us a better idea of what may have caused the loss of function.
  • Diagnostic imaging. IU Health Neurology physicians use imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans to look at your brain function. They can use this technology to diagnose dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Overview

Memory loss can put you or a loved one at higher risk of falls and accidents. It can leave you unable to follow healthy habits like exercising and eating right. You (or your loved one) can no longer participate in your healthcare and any health condition, injury or illness, affects you more than it would for a healthy older adult.

If you care for someone with memory loss, you may experience increased levels of stress and anxiety. Over time, the stress can take its toll on your health. Caregivers need coordinated care programs, support groups and regular appointments with their own primary care physicians to ensure their own health.

Cause

Memory loss caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is a growing health problem affecting seniors. Alzheimer’s disease alone is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Memory loss greatly impacts the lives of patients and their families, causing depression and other health conditions not only in the patient, but in caregivers as well.

Diagnosis

Early diagnosis of memory loss can slow the condition and improve your (or your loved one’s) overall health. The following diagnostic tests may help your physician determine the cause and extent of your (or your loved one’s) memory loss:

  • Laboratory testing. Nutrient deficiencies or other problems may contribute to memory loss. Physicians at IU Health take blood samples and run tests to ensure the proper balance of vitamins and nutrients. Niacin, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D impact brain function, including memory. As you age, you may lose the ability to properly absorb and process these nutrients, leading to nutrient deficiencies. Diet and vitamin supplements may help correct memory loss. Other conditions such as hypothyroidism can affect your memory. Women over the age of 60 risk developing this condition and experiencing difficulty concentrating or remembering.
  • Mental exam. To determine the extent of memory loss and loss of other cognitive functions, we perform a mental exam. During this exam, your physician asks you and your family a variety of questions about your day-to-day life. If you find it increasingly difficult to perform tasks such as paying bills, cooking or other daily activities, you may have dementia. Understanding how your mental health has changed gives us a better idea of what may have caused the loss of function.
  • Diagnostic imaging. IU Health Neurology physicians use imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans to look at your brain function. They can use this technology to diagnose dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

IU Health Geriatrics physicians offer specialized care for you and your family to determine the cause and best treatment for memory loss. Your first appointment will likely take three hours long to ensure you receive focused, individualized attention and access to the following services:

  • Social history. A social history allows our physicians to know more about you and your family and build a stronger relationship with you. Aspects of your life, such as whether you work, live alone or have an ill spouse, may all affect your mental health. After a social history, your physician may also suggest lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise to increase brain function and slow the progress of conditions that cause memory loss.
  • Depression scale. In older adults, depression can cause loss of cognitive functions such as memory. Your physician may ask you questions to determine if you have depression. Answering these questions honestly can ensure an accurate diagnosis and the proper treatment. If you do suffer from depression, antidepressants may improve your mood and memory. Cognitive behavioral therapy and support groups can also benefit your mental health.
  • Medicines. If you have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, some medicines may slow the progression of memory loss. However, no medicine can cure the conditions. Because these medicines often have side effects, your physicians start you with the lowest dose and monitor you for improvement. Over time, the type of medicine and the dose you take may change. If you have depression, your physician works with you to find a medicine that improves your mood and memory without causing harmful side effects.
  • Referral to specialists. Several IU Health specialists play a role in caring for your memory loss. Your IU Health geriatrician will coordinate your care to ensure it remains consistent and right for you. If you have depression, your physician may also refer you to support groups or therapists to improve your emotional health and, ultimately, increase your brain function.

Treatment

IU Health Geriatrics physicians offer specialized care for you and your family to determine the cause and best treatment for memory loss. Your first appointment will likely take three hours long to ensure you receive focused, individualized attention and access to the following services:

  • Social history. A social history allows our physicians to know more about you and your family and build a stronger relationship with you. Aspects of your life, such as whether you work, live alone or have an ill spouse, may all affect your mental health. After a social history, your physician may also suggest lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise to increase brain function and slow the progress of conditions that cause memory loss.
  • Depression scale. In older adults, depression can cause loss of cognitive functions such as memory. Your physician may ask you questions to determine if you have depression. Answering these questions honestly can ensure an accurate diagnosis and the proper treatment. If you do suffer from depression, antidepressants may improve your mood and memory. Cognitive behavioral therapy and support groups can also benefit your mental health.
  • Medicines. If you have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, some medicines may slow the progression of memory loss. However, no medicine can cure the conditions. Because these medicines often have side effects, your physicians start you with the lowest dose and monitor you for improvement. Over time, the type of medicine and the dose you take may change. If you have depression, your physician works with you to find a medicine that improves your mood and memory without causing harmful side effects.
  • Referral to specialists. Several IU Health specialists play a role in caring for your memory loss. Your IU Health geriatrician will coordinate your care to ensure it remains consistent and right for you. If you have depression, your physician may also refer you to support groups or therapists to improve your emotional health and, ultimately, increase your brain function.

Patient Stories for Memory Loss

MedlinePlus

The National Institutes of Health online medical library provides easy-to-understand information on memory and memory loss.

National Institute on Aging

The National Institute on Aging can help you understand when forgetfulness is normal or a sign of other conditions, causes of memory problems and how to treat memory problems.

Resources

MedlinePlus

The National Institutes of Health online medical library provides easy-to-understand information on memory and memory loss.

National Institute on Aging

The National Institute on Aging can help you understand when forgetfulness is normal or a sign of other conditions, causes of memory problems and how to treat memory problems.