Memory loss is a common condition and one of the very most concerning symptoms patients will discuss at their consultation. There is tremendous fear of developing dementia, and losing control of one’s self and becoming a burden on one’s family. In Arizona alone it is estimated there were a total of 130,000 people aged 65 and older with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. This number is expected to rise to 200,000 by 2025. Alzheimer’s is the 5th leading cause of death in Arizona.
There is a certain “normal” memory loss with aging and occasional lapses or word retrieval problems may be nothing more than normal the result of normal aging. There is a condition called Mild Cognitive Impairment which may indicate loss of memory or other cognitive function beyond the effects of normal aging. Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment, or MCI, may still be able to live and function independently, but are at significant risk of progressing to a frank dementia.
Dementia is not a single disease. But it describes a number of conditions associated with significant decline in multiple cognitive skills such that the patient may not be able perform everyday activities and it can negatively affect a person’s function in the workplace as well as involve social and family life.