Causes of Confusion and Memory Loss

Many people assume that confusion and memory loss in older adults is associated with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, confusion and memory loss can actually be caused by other seemingly unrelated conditions. This is especially true for seniors.

A few other causes for confusion and memory loss are:

  • Urinary Tract Infections – UTIs can cause cognitive-behavioral problems such as confusion and irritability.
  • Depression–  Depression can cause loss of focus, trouble sleeping, moodiness, irritability and a feeling of hopelessness. Many people experience depression at some point in life. It’s often associated with grief. Whatever the cause, it is treatable.
  • Thyroid Disease – The thyroid functioning incorrectly can cause changes in cognition and behavior. Once thyroid function is controlled, usually with medication, mental health should improve.
  • Diabetes– Blood sugar can impact cognitive abilities. If blood sugar drops too low, it can cause symptoms such as fatigue, confusion, clumsiness, slurred speech and in some cases can even cause fainting and falls.
  • Lyme Disease – Lyme disease is caused by bacteria from a tick bite. This bacteria can affect the nervous system and short term memory. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. It is most often transmitted by deer ticks, which are small and hard to detect; thankfully, they make their habitat outside the Sonoran Desert.
  • B12 Deficiency – A vitamin b12 deficiency can cause fatigue, which can worsen any adverse mental health symptoms and can also cause confusion. B12 deficiency can be treated with a supplement.
  • Medications – Some medications, even over the counter medications, can cause symptoms that resemble those of dementia. Taking multiple medications at one time may result in adverse symptoms from drug interactions.

If you or a loved one are experiencing changes in mood, memory or behavior, take note of your symptoms and speak to your physician. They can help you figure out the cause and come up with a treatment plan to improve your quality of life. Despite the stigma associated with mood and memory issues, there is absolutely no shame in getting help. If your stomach stopped holding food the way it used to, you would certainly want to see a doctor. If your mind stops processing information the way it used to, don’t just chalk it up to old age or fear the worst. Get the support you need.

If you need help caring for a loved one who is experiencing memory loss, our dementia programs are designed to educate and empower family caregivers.

Posted on June 29, 2017