By Jess Kaado, Preventionist
I remember the first time I became aware of memory loss as a cognitive health problem. It was 2004 and I was a hopelessly romantic teenager eager to watch one of the year’s biggest films: The Notebook. This movie became a national treasure as arguably one of the most romantic, yet heartbreaking, movies in history. For those who are not aware, it is a love story that follows the main characters, Noah and Allie, and their love story which began in their youth (the late 1930’s). The movie begins with a gentleman reading a love story to a woman in a nursing home in current times. By the end of the movie, we discover that it was Noah reading their love story to Allie the entire time in hopes of her regaining her memory of him as she now battles with memory loss from dementia.
I came out of that movie emotionally distraught for Noah and Allie, as if I had known them personally. But I also came out with new awareness of this condition that, according to the National Institute on Aging, affects one-third of people aged 85 or older (What is dementia? symptoms, types, and diagnosis). Fast forward 18 years and memory loss is still on the forefront of the minds of seniors. I have heard so many tragic stories of people losing friends or family, seemingly over the course of just days, to memory loss. This causes tremendous amounts of anxiety for seniors and their loved ones. This anxiety often leads seniors to delay speaking with their doctor about their symptoms out of fear that nothing can be done as it must be due to Alzheimer’s. However, it is important to speak with a doctor as soon as any signs of memory loss occur since there can be other causes such as thyroid problems or medication side effects (Kernisan et al., 2020). There are also things that can be done to promote brain health and prevent memory loss as we age. Seeking early intervention is key to proper treatment and more desirable outcomes, as there are some forms of dementia that are not due to Alzheimer’s and can be reversible.
Kernisan, L., Says, G., says, N. S., says, A., says, C. O., says, S. M., says, S. T., Didyk, N., & says, V. P. A. (2020, September 21). 7 commonly neglected problems to address for Healthy Aging. Better Health While Aging. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://betterhealthwhileaging.net/7-commonly-neglected-problems-to-address-healthy-aging/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). What is dementia? symptoms, types, and diagnosis. National Institute on Aging. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-is-dementia
Photo by Katarzyna Grabowska