Dementia and memory loss

Worried about your memory?

It's not unusual, particularly as we get older, for the odd name or word to slip our memory, or that we forget where we have put things. It can be frustrating and annoying, but usually it's only a mild nuisance.

If you feel that lapses of memory are becoming more frequent, or if you're worried that your memory is getting worse, it could be an early sign of a more serious problem.

It's important to be aware that not all memory problems are a sign of Alzheimer's or other dementias. Tiredness, stress, overwork, anxiety, depression, some physical illnesses, poor diet or the side-effects of certain medications can all affect our memory.

What you can do to reduce the risks:

Exercising your brain

There is evidence that keeping mentally active can help to prevent or slow down memory problems. Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, word searches and jigsaws are all good ways of keeping the mind active. You can also buy or download games to play on a computer or smartphone which are designed to improve memory and problem-solving skills.

You can also look into adult education courses at your local college or community centre, or find clubs and organisations that offer activities you enjoy, like board games, book discussions, music or art. Or you could start using your local library.

Staying fit and healthy

Eating a healthy diet and keeping physically active are also important. Try going for walks or to your local gym if you can manage it, and make sure you include plenty of fruit, vegetables and protein in your diet, which will help to keep your body and brain healthy. A vitamin or mineral supplement might also be useful, particularly for older people.

Keeping an eye on your blood pressure

People with high blood pressure are at greater risk of developing vascular dementia (the second most common dementia after Alzheimer's disease); you can go to our page on Blood pressure for more information on how to keep your blood pressure within safe limits.

Finding out what the problem is

If your memory problems are getting worse, begin to affect your daily life, or are worrying you, it's a good idea to visit your GP for a check up. Your doctor will examine you and ask a series of questions to test your memory. They will also ask about your general health, diet and mood to see if there might be another issue causing your memory problems.

Your GP may also refer you to your local Memory Service who will provide an assessment of your situation, diagnose your condition, and can link you into a wide range of support services.