Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Memory Loss – An Overview
Physician's Weekly
June 30, 2023

Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Memory Loss – An Overview

Memory loss is essentially being more forgetful than usual. The initial challenge tends to be remembering recent events, as memory loss progresses one’s ability to recall past events is increasingly compromised. It may be transient or irreversible. When advanced, one’s overall quality of life is significantly impacted.

The following increase the risk of memory loss:

● Aging process

● Dementia

● Stroke

● Major psychological stress or physical illness

● Depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia

● Hypertension

● Diabetes

● Alcohol abuse

● Cigarette smoking

● Infections – Herpes I/II, AIDS, COVID-19, meningitis

● Heart conditions – Atrial fibrillation, ischemic heart disease, heart failure

● Head injury

● Medications – anti-anxiety, anti-seizure, tricyclic anti-depressants, chemotherapy

● Being overweight

● Poorly controlled or prolonged seizures

● Neurological conditions – Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis

● Vitamin deficiencies – B12, D, Folic Acid

● Hypothyroidism

● Sleep apnea

● Insomnia

● Family history

● Lesser education

● Brain tumour

● Subdural hematoma (clot on the brain)

A cursory review of some types of memory loss:

The normal ageing process may be associated with memory challenges. For example, one may OCCASIONALLY forget where one placed something (e.g. keys); forget an event or a name; or may be lost for a word.

These memory lapses are amusingly referred to as “senior moments”.

The prevalence of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) increases with age. MCI is NOT dementia. However, almost 50% of persons with MCI develop dementia within 3 years. Signs of MCI may include FREQUENTLY forgetting to attend events and appointments; losing objects; repeating recently told stories and previously asked questions, and having difficulty choosing one’s words. However, persons with MCI mostly have little to no difficulty in carrying out daily tasks.

Dementia is an umbrella term that is used to describe five cognitively compromising conditions. They all IRREVERSIBLY impair memory, clarity of thought, and or one’s ability to make decisions, ultimately negatively impacting the sufferer’s day-to-day life. There is marked difficulty carrying out everyday tasks such as paying bills, meal planning, grocery shopping, personal grooming, following directions, etc. The person is recurrently confused about time and dates. There are often personality changes such as anxiety, depression, moodiness, apathy, inflexibility in thinking, agitation, extreme suspicion, etc.
Alzheimer’s is the most common subtype of dementia and involves areas of the brain controlling memory, language, and thought.

Some tests that should be done when evaluating anyone with memory loss:

● Mini-mental status exam


● B-12

● D

● Folic acid

● Thyroid function

● Kidney function

● Liver function

● HbA1C

● MRI or CT scan


Some recent developments regarding memory loss:

● Lacanemab has been shown to slow the decline in memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s.

● University of Queensland researchers have found that an active ingredient in edible mushrooms can augment memory by promoting neuronal growth.

● Research has found that experiencing three or more concussions accelerates memory decline.

● A blood test has been developed that can accurately detect Alzheimer’s about 9-10 years before it can be clinically diagnosed.

● A landmark study confirms that social isolation significantly increases the risk for the development and accelerated progression of Alzheimer’s.

● A recently published study has confirmed that moderate exercise is associated with a reduced risk of developing and slowing the progression of dementia.

● Choline, which is found in broccoli, cabbage, legumes, fish, meat, and poultry, if deficient in the body can increase the chances of developing Alzheimer’s.

● Another study has shown that HRT reduces the chances of developing Alzheimer’s.

● Mitigating hearing loss via the use of hearing aids can delay the onset, and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Managing memory loss

This depends on the type of memory loss, the reason for it, the family’s and patient’s wishes and resources, and the healthcare provider’s familiarity with what’s available.

Below is a synopsis:

● Eating healthy – The “MIND Diet” offers useful suggestions

● Switching or stopping certain medications

● Medications – e.g. a cholinesterase inhibitor and or glutamate regulator

● Correcting vitamin deficiencies

● Increasing physical activity

● Minimizing alcohol consumption

● Smoking cessation

● Challenging the brain – e.g. learning to play a new musical instrument, learning a new language

● Sleeping 7-8 hours at night

● Strict control of hypertension, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.

● Treating depression if present

● Avoid protracted isolation

● Playing the person’s favourite genre of music can improve mood by reducing anxiety, and depression

● The use of rosemary as a form of aromatherapy may help to boost memory temporarily


Author: Dr. C. Malcolm Grant – Family Physician, c/o Family Care Clinic, Arnos Vale,,, 1(784)570-9300 (Office), 1(784)455-0376 (WhatsApp)
Disclaimer: The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Dr. C. Malcolm Grant, Family Care Clinic or The Searchlight Newspaper or their associates, respectively, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information provided above.