An underlying fear many people have even if they do not talk about it is the possibility of future memory loss. Alzheimer's disease is the most famous type of dementia; however, many types of dementia exist. We want to think it will not happen, but it is a reality American family face all the time.
We all have experienced the time we cannot find the right word or forget why we went into another room. It can be scary, but soon we remember and move on with our day. Does forgetfulness really mean cognitive decline? Is a little memory loss really normal?
Every part of our life is affected by the consequences of cognitive decline. Once you start experiencing memory loss, it is too late to plan. The problem is the crisis has already begun. As memory loss advances, we lose our independence. Over a little time, our family will not want to leave us alone. We will require supervisory care. The long-term care that dementia requires can last a while if we have otherwise good health.
Dementia Care is Emotionally and Physically Exhausting
When family members become our caregivers the stress and burdens placed on them will be tremendous. Taking care of a loved one with dementia is emotionally exhausting and physically demanding. Finding the time to be a caregiver and maintaining a job and other family relationships is problematic at best.
Our occasional memory lapses are usually nothing. However, when normal forgetfulness becomes more frequent, it needs to get our attention. Generally, you want to rule out common benign reasons people have memory lapses.
Harvard Medical School's health blog has shared seven common causes of forgetfulness that have nothing to do with dementia or Alzheimer's. These are things we can do something about to better our memory and quality of life. Here are four of the seven Harvard notes:
- Lack of sleep - Yes, we lead busy lives. Between work and family, many of us burn that candle on both ends. You can make time for more sleep, and you will see immediate health and memory benefits.
- Drugs - There are prescription medications whose side effects bring memory loss. Some of these drugs are common like blood pressure medications, and anxiety or depression medications are a few of the many drugs that can cause, in some people, forgetfulness. You can see the list of some of these medications by clicking here.
- Thyroid - An underactive thyroid can also affect your memory and disturb your sleep. Your doctor can perform a simple blood test to see if you have this issue.
- Alcohol - Your short-term memory can be affected by drinking too much even long after you sobered up.
What is Normal and What is Dementia?
What is normal forgetfulness? There is a level of absentmindedness that is normal. We often just don't focus on things being said. Perhaps it is a lack of interest, or you are paying attention to something else. If we don't care to remember, our brains won't bother.
Harvard says our memories have a "use-it-or-lose-it" quality. Our memories that are called up and used frequently are least likely to be forgotten. Unless you worked in a library all your life, do you recall how the Dewy Decimal System works?
The National Institute on Aging shared this infographic on what is normal and what is not normal.
There are seven normal memory problems we face according to Harvard. Click here to read more about them.
Did You Prepare for the Consequences of Aging?
The problem with getting older is we are often not prepared. Not everyone saves money for their future retirements. Participating in your employer's 401(k) or other retirement accounts would help you financially in the decades ahead. Yet not everyone does. Do it and do it young. The power of compounding is tremendous.
You probably want to have an enjoyable and pressure-free future retirement. You might think it years away. You might think you can wait until you get older to start thinking about it.
No, it would be best if you thought about it now. Preparing for your retirement takes action. It isn't necessarily difficult to do, but you must have the desire to take the action required to make it happen.
Preparing your family and finances for the financial costs and burdens of aging is an essential part of retirement planning. Since the costs of long-term care services are expensive, you need to prepare for these costs so that it won't change your lifestyle and legacy.
Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance, even a small policy, will provide you with guaranteed tax-free benefits giving you access to your choice of quality care in your home or in a facility.
But Long-Term Care Insurance is more than just about money. It gives you the power of independence instead of the dependence many people face when they have failed to address these concerns.
The time to get a policy is before your retirement, ideally in your 40s or 50s. You can make as many excuses as you like. However, if you take the few minutes and do the research, you will see that you can have an affordable plan in place and give you and your family the peace-of-mind you deserve.