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Alistair asked...

I have an elderly parent who's memory is getting worse by the week.

I have an elderly parent who's memory is getting worse by the week. How (if necessary) can I differentiate between 1) old age memory loss 2) Dementia 3) Alzheimers 4) any other potential issue. Thanks Alistair

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The answer

Some degree of memory loss is natural as you get older and it is not necessarily a sign of dementia. Rapid memory loss can be a sign of other conditions such as infection or depression – if changes are getting worse week-by-week, and especially if their condition seems to be deteriorating daily, they should see a doctor to rule out infections such as urine infection. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia which causes similar symptoms to other kinds of dementia, such as vascular dementia. Symptoms of dementia include: 1) memory loss, with more recent events often the first to go. Over time, they may start to live completely in the past. 2) Getting agitated and upset, especially if their routine is disrupted. 3) Poor concentration. 4) Confusion and disorientation, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. 5) Personality changes. As a baseline, GPs will often use a test called the Mini Mental State Examination or MMSE to test for degrees of impairment in brain functioning. If you are concerned that someone you are looking after might have dementia, speak to their GP.

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