Mem­ory like a gold­fish? Here’s the test that’ll show if you re­ally SHOULD worry

We fear de­men­tia more than can­cer or a heart at­tack. But how can you tell if you’re af­fected? With this unique quiz for you AND your loved one ...

Daily Mail - - Good Health - By ANNA HODGEKISS

Do you worry that your mem­ory isn’t what it used to be? Forget what you went up­stairs for or fre­quently fail to put a name to a face? A string of mo­ments such as this can make many fear the worst — that it’s the be­gin­ning of the slow de­cline into the horror of de­men­tia.

A sur­vey last year by Saga found that most of us dread in­cur­able brain dis­eases such as de­men­tia more than can­cer or a heart at­tack.

It’s this fear that drives many to seek help. Fig­ures show de­men­tia clin­ics, the ma­jor­ity of which rely on GP re­fer­rals, have re­cently been ‘ bom­barded’ by mid­dle-aged peo­ple who fear they have the con­di­tion be­cause they some­times struggle to find their house keys.

There was a four-fold rise in pa­tients be­ing seen at spe­cial­ist cen­tres be­tween 2010 and 2013.

How­ever, clin­ics say the vast ma­jor­ity of cases are pa­tients who are sim­ply ab­sent-minded, per­haps due to stress at work. So when should you worry about your own mem­ory lapses or those of a loved one?


‘THere’S a great deal of hys­te­ria th­ese days over mem­ory abil­ity,’ says Barry Gor­don, a pro­fes­sor of neu­rol­ogy and cog­ni­tive science at Johns Hop­kins univer­sity in the u.S. and a worl­drenowned ex­pert on mem­ory.

‘We seem to have un­re­al­is­ti­cally high ex­pec­ta­tions for our mem­ory. Most of us don’t com­plain about wan­ing strength or ap­petite, but the first time we forget the name of an ac­quain­tance, we as­sume we may have Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

‘We never give our­selves credit for what we do re­mem­ber, in­stead we fix­ate on what we forget!’

Most cases of ab­sent-mind­ed­ness are nor­mal — ‘it may just be a mat­ter of sim­pli­fy­ing your life so that you re­duce the “in­for­ma­tion over­load” in your brain’, says Pro­fes­sor Gor­don.

‘If you have a busy life, you have more op­por­tu­ni­ties to forget — and more op­por­tu­ni­ties to blame your mem­ory.’


reASSurInGly, some as­pects of mem­ory ac­tu­ally im­prove with age, says Sube Ban­er­jee, pro­fes­sor of de­men­tia at Brighton and Sus­sex Med­i­cal School.

So-called in­tel­li­gent mem­ory (a term coined by Pro­fes­sor Gor­don and his team) — which cov­ers such things as know­ing how to ride a bike, vo­cab­u­lary and so­cial aware­ness, or know­ing how to be­have with peo­ple — does not weaken with age.

It may even get stronger in some re­spects in later years.

What’s cru­cial, says Pro­fes­sor Gor­don, a neu­ro­sci­en­tist and editor- in- chief of the jour­nal Cog­ni­tive and Be­havioural neu­rol­ogy, is to re­alise for­get­ting things now and again is nor­mal — es­pe­cially as we get older, as we have more to re­mem­ber, and as the con­nec­tions in our brains slow down.

The truth is that only a small por­tion of peo­ple de­velop sig­nif­i­cant mem­ory prob­lems due to brain dis­ease.

Mis­plac­ing your keys once a week isn’t con­cern­ing — do­ing it ev­ery day is, says Pro­fes­sor Ban­er­jee. ‘And for­get­ting where you’ve parked your car in a car park isn’t wor­ry­ing [car park floors can look iden­ti­cal] — but it’s con­cern­ing if you don’t know which car park you used.’


In Gen­erAl, the more se­vere your wor­ries about is­sues with your mem­ory, the less likely you ac­tu­ally have a serious prob­lem, says Pro­fes­sor Gor­don.

‘The typ­i­cal Alzheimer’s pa­tient gen­er­ally does not worry about his mem­ory — their friends and fam­ily do.’ This is be­cause damage to the brain fre­quently af­fects ar­eas that im­pair your knowl­edge of your own abil­i­ties.

you can test the state of your mem­ory with the unique check­list on the fac­ing page cre­ated by Pro­fes­sor Gor­don.

It is de­signed to high­light and help ex­plain some of the warn­ing signs of mem­ory prob­lems — and when you may need to see a doc­tor.

you MuST com­plete the check­list with some­one who knows you well (for ex­am­ple, your spouse, a good friend or close rel­a­tive), be­cause how they rate your mem­ory is cru­cial.

‘Pro­vided you know him/her rea­son­ably well, and have a chance to see them in ev­ery­day life, their rat­ing is a fairly re­li­able guide to how good — or bad — it ac­tu­ally is,’ says Pro­fes­sor Gor­don.

‘In gen­eral, I give far more weight to the im­pres­sions of mem­ory loss from a spouse or close friend than from the per­son be­ing rated.’

If your spouse’s or friend’s eval­u­a­tion sug­gests you should see a doc­tor, then you must. For each ques­tion, both you and your spouse/friend should cir­cle the most ap­pro­pri­ate an­swer.

For some ques­tions, there will be spe­cific ad­vice for each of you.

For oth­ers, the same find­ings/ ad­vice will ap­ply to both of you. Fol­low the spe­cific ad­vice where it’s given — the an­swers to other ques­tions will help cre­ate a pic­ture of the prob­lem, if there is one.

(note, th­ese check­lists are not a sub­sti­tute for a doc­tor’s opin­ion.)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.