Daily Mail - - Good Health -

BE­FORE you take this quiz read the ex­pert anal­y­sis on the fac­ing page.


Your age (a) Un­der 45 (b) Be­tween 46 to 65 (c) 65 to 75 (d) 76 or older WHY THIS MAT­TERS (both you and your spouse/friend should read this sec­tion): If the an­swer is (a): The good news is that de­men­tia is rare at this age. If you have mem­ory prob­lems now it’s most likely to be due to over­work and stress, or de­pres­sion. If the an­swer is (b): ThIs is when you can be­gin to have prob­lems such as re­mem­ber­ing names — this hap­pens as some brain con­nec­tions slow down and we have more names to re­mem­ber. This is nor­mal.

serious brain dis­eases such as Alzheimer’s are ex­tremely rare be­fore the age of 60 and still un­usual at 65.

De­pres­sion, anx­i­ety and over­work may be be­hind mem­ory lapses. If the an­swer is (c): The risk of Alzheimer’s in­creases, but your risk is still less than 1 per cent.

De­pres­sion re­mains a pos­si­ble cause of mem­ory prob­lems. There’s also a higher risk of stroke and heart dis­ease, which can af­fect the brain and mem­ory as a re­sult of damage or poor blood flow to the brain. This age group is more likely to be on med­i­ca­tion, which can ham­per think­ing and mem­ory. If the an­swer is (d): For­geT­Ful­ness is an ex­pected part of age­ing. But af­ter 75, and par­tic­u­larly af­ter 80, the risk of Alzheimer’s is much higher — up to 40 per cent of peo­ple will de­velop it.

That be­ing the case, if the an­swers to the ques­tions be­low sug­gest a cause for con­cern, there is more rea­son to take mem­ory loss se­ri­ously.


How would you rate your/their mem­ory? (a) Re­ally bad — I forget ev­ery­thing! (b) Not too bad — but I forget more of­ten than most peo­ple. (c) Nor­mal. Like ev­ery­one, mostly I re­mem­ber, but some­times I forget. WHY THIS MAT­TERS (for you to read) If the an­swer is (a): You can re­lax a bit. In gen­eral, the worse you think your mem­ory is, the less likely it is you have a serious brain prob­lem. If you did, you wouldn’t re­mem­ber what you’d for­got­ten. If the an­swer is (b): You may have a re­al­is­tic ap­praisal of your mem­ory. But if you’re con­cerned it’s worse than other peo­ple’s — or it has de­te­ri­o­rated in the past year — then get­ting it checked is rea­son­able. If the an­swer is (c): You may well be nor­mal. But if you had Alzheimer’s, you might think you are nor­mal — the key is how your spouse or friend an­swers ques­tion 2: if they an­swer (a) or (b), it’s best to get checked. WHY THIS MAT­TERS (for your spouse/friend to read) If the an­swer is (a): IF ThIs is a change for this per­son, it’s a ma­jor dan­ger sign about their mem­ory. I would urge you to con­vince them to seek a med­i­cal opin­ion. If the an­swer is (b): IF You be­lieve their mem­ory is worse than other peo­ple’s — and have known them long enough to be able to say that — they should see a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional. It may be due to age­ing, de­pres­sion, ex­ces­sive med­i­ca­tion, poor diet or in­ac­tiv­ity. But it should be checked. If the an­swer is (c): You al­most cer­tainly don’t need to be con­cerned about this per­son’s mem­ory — and they shouldn’t worry ei­ther.


What kinds of things do you/they forget? For ex­am­ple, work projects, turn­ing off the stove (more than just once) or peo­ple’s names? WHY THIS MAT­TERS (both read this): For­geT­TIng im­por­tant things such as turn­ing off the stove can be a sign of a more se­vere mem­ory prob­lem than for­get­ting things of no con­se­quence. But it’s not a guar­an­teed sign of a serious med­i­cal prob­lem such as Alzheimer’s.

De­pres­sion, for ex­am­ple, can some­times cause ma­jor mem­ory lapses. so take this in the con­text of an­swers to other ques­tions.


Did your/their mem­ory prob­lem be­gin sud­denly or grad­u­ally? (a) Sud­denly, within hours or a day or two. (b) Grad­u­ally, so slowly I’m not ac­tu­ally sure when it be­gan. WHY THIS MAT­TERS (you read this): If the an­swer is (a): some­TImes, peo­ple sud­denly no­tice prob­lems that have been there for quite a long time. It may be they ex­pe­ri­ence a par­tic­u­lar episode that high­lights their for­get­ful­ness. But mem­ory prob­lems that seem to be­gin sud­denly — in a few hours or a day — could have been caused by an in­jury ( that the per­son may have for­got­ten) or a stroke in an area of the brain that af­fects mem­ory only — so see a doc­tor. If the an­swer is (b): oF­Ten it’s hard to re­mem­ber when the prob­lem be­gan be­cause of the mem­ory loss or be­cause it be­gan so slowly.

In mem­ory loss due to age­ing, peo­ple are of­ten fairly cer­tain their mem­ory five or ten years ago was bet­ter, but hasn’t changed that much.

With de­men­tia, it wors­ens more quickly — usu­ally within a year or two — but the suf­ferer may not be aware of this. If you’re aware of grad­ual changes, but your an­swers to other ques­tions don’t in­di­cate a prob­lem, there is likely to be no cause for con­cern.

WHY THIS MAT­TERS (for your spouse/friend to read):

If the an­swer is (a): some­TImes mem­ory loss might seem sud­den, but the prob­lem has been there for a while. It usu­ally hap­pens af­ter an ill­ness — of­ten a hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion when the per­son is in new cir­cum­stances. An in­abil­ity to adapt to new sit­u­a­tions sig­nals prob­lems with mem­ory and other func­tions — the per­son can’t keep up when their cir­cum­stances be­come un­fa­mil­iar. gen­uine sud­den mem­ory loss in­di­cates a med­i­cal con­di­tion such as a stroke. If the an­swer is (b): The mem­ory loss due to Alzheimer’s creeps up, but then pro­gresses more quickly than that caused by age­ing. If this de­scribes your loved one, they should see a doc­tor. mem­ory loss that doesn’t change dra­mat­i­cally over a year means what­ever is caus­ing it is very slow or is it­self not chang­ing. It makes Alzheimer’s less likely — so take this into the con­text of age and your an­swers to other ques­tions.


Have you/they had pe­ri­ods of time in the past year when mem­ory im­proved dra­mat­i­cally — such as at the week­end or on holiday? (a) Yes (b) No WHY THIS MAT­TERS (both read this): If the an­swer is (a): ev­erY­one’s mem­ory abil­ity fluc­tu­ates, but if you think you have a mem­ory prob­lem yet it has sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved at times, it’s usu­ally a sign that it’s not your brain caus­ing the prob­lem, but that you’re de­pressed or anx­ious and need treat­ment for that. If the an­swer is (b): lAck of im­prove­ment does not mean there is a serious mem­ory prob­lem or dis­ease af­fect­ing mem­ory. even mild prob­lems can per­sist un­changed so take into ac­count an­swers to other ques­tions. IN thIS sec­tion, there are sep­a­rate ques­tions for you and your spouse/ friend to an­swer. th­ese may sound sim­i­lar to Ques­tion 2, but they are sub­tly dif­fer­ent and are an im­por­tant in­di­ca­tion of the state of your mem­ory.


For you to an­swer: How do you think your spouse or close friends/rel­a­tives would rate your mem­ory? (a) Re­ally bad — I forget ev­ery­thing! (b) Not too bad — but I forget more of­ten than other peo­ple. (c) they think it’s nor­mal. Like ev­ery­one, mostly I re­mem­ber, but some­times I forget. WHY THIS MAT­TERS If the an­swer is (a): IF You feel those who know you well think your mem­ory is bad, con­sider seek­ing a med­i­cal opin­ion. If the an­swer is (b): IF TheY think you’re more for­get­ful than other peo­ple, then they’re prob­a­bly right. It may be noth­ing more than nor­mal age­ing (dis­tress­ing as that may be), de­pres­sion, med­i­ca­tion side-ef­fects or a bor­ing life­style. In any case, a check-up might be worth it. If the an­swer is (c): ThIs is good, but if it turns out that your spouse/friend’s eval­u­a­tion of your mem­ory is sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent from yours (from Ques­tion 2), then you should ques­tion why your im­pres­sions dif­fer.

Are you hid­ing things from them so they can’t tell how bad your mem­ory re­ally is? Again, if this is the case, it’s worth seek­ing out a med­i­cal opin­ion. For your spouse/friend to an­swer: How will this per­son think you’ll rate their mem­ory? a) their mem­ory is much worse than they think b) their mem­ory is the same as they rate it or bet­ter than they rate it. WHY THIS MAT­TERS If the an­swer is (a): ThIs is a cause for con­cern. not only do you think their mem­ory is bad, it also im­plies they are not a very good judge of their own abil­i­ties.

Dis­eases such Alzheimer’s de­stroy not only mem­ory, but also judg­ment and self-aware­ness. If the an­swer is (b): hoW you rate their mem­ory is prob­a­bly

more ac­cu­rate than their own rat­ing, so if it’s bet­ter than they think, this is a good sign. If it’s the same, what this means de­pends in part on how good or bad you think this per­son’s mem­ory is.

If you both think it’s bad, then it de­serves an eval­u­a­tion. If you’re both agreed on good, then re­lax.


Do you/they tend to re­call some­thing you/they for­got once re­minded about it — eg for­get­ting go­ing to an event or the plot of a book? (a) Yes, all or al­most all the time (b) Some­times (c) Never WHY THIS MAT­TERS (you read this): If the an­swer is (a): IF yOU can re­mem­ber af­ter a re­minder, it’s a clue your mem­ory prob­lem is rel­a­tively mild, so there’s lit­tle cause to worry. If the an­swer is (b): A MORE trou­bling sign, but some­thing as sim­ple as dis­trac­tion or ab­sent­mind­ed­ness could be to blame. See how you fare with other ques­tions. If the an­swer is (c): THIS may mean your mem­ory loss is more se­vere. Seek your doc­tor’s opin­ion. WHY THIS MAT­TERS (for your spouse/friend to read): If the an­swer is (a): THIS is a good sign, so don’t worry. If the an­swer is (b): A CAUSE for some con­cern and worth tak­ing into ac­count with the re­sults of any other wor­ry­ing an­swers. If the an­swer is (c): DEF­I­NITELy con­cern­ing and an­other thing to men­tion when you are seek­ing a med­i­cal opin­ion.


Are you/they a reg­u­lar heavy drinker? DRINK­ING to ex­cess fre­quently can make your mem­ory worse. In a study con­ducted at the Na­tional In­sti­tute on Al­co­hol Abuse and Al­co­holism, each ex­tra drink of al­co­hol was as­so­ci­ated with the equiv­a­lent of age­ing an ad­di­tional 2.4 to 3.7 years due to the damage to mem­ory.

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