What Causes Memory Problems? Age is Not Always To Blame

What Causes Memory Problems? Age is Not Always To Blame

Think getting older means a decline in memory? Not necessarily so. Healthy older adults usually improve in some mental ability areas, such as remembering and using words. While normal, age-related changes can mean it takes longer for older adults to learn new things, new information or skills can be and should be learned.

No matter what your age, memory problems can be caused by stress, depression, hypothyroidism, cardiovascular problems, diabetes and a range of other illnesses. Some drugs, including certain heart medications, antidepressants, antiepileptics, and even cold remedies, also may hurt your memory.

Anything that depresses the system—alcohol, benzodiazepines, any kind of tranquilizer, any kind of sleeping pill—will depress the memory system.

When you begin any new drug or change dosage, keep an eye on your reactions. Even drugs not known to disrupt memory may affect yours. Drug interactions also may contribute to memory problems.

If you are concerned that you or someone you love has a memory problem, talk to your primary care provider. He or she may be able to diagnose the problem, or refer you to a qualified specialist in neurology.

Find a primary care provider or neurologist valleymed.org/neuroscience

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Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office