Psychiatrist to Baby Boomers: Relax, It’s Probably Not Alzheimer’s

“Now why did I just enter this room?” Sound familiar? It’s the question many people ask when they decide to, for instance, grab a notepad and pen and then forget that was their mission. Too many baby boomers worry that such glitches can be a sign of serious cognitive decline as seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Relax, says Marc. E. Agronin, MD, a geriatric psychiatrist and the vice president for behavior health and clinical research at Miami Jewish Health in Miami.

In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Agronin says that he’s seeing more people ages 50 to 65 come into his office in a panic that they might have Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Usually, other factors cause the memory hiccups. He offers this anecdote. A successful 55-year-old businesswoman named “Marion” thought that she might be going “senile” (a phrase, Agronin explains, that doctors don’t use anymore). Turns out that the cause of Marion’s memory loss was the increasing stress of her job.

Reversible factors were behind the memory loss, Agronin explained. “I explained that processing speed and other skills of the typical brain begin to slow down in middle age, and that she was taxing them even more with several common cognitive lodestones: overwhelming stress and depressed moods that distracted her and lessened her interest in daily tasks; lack of sleep; and a medication that can disrupt memory formation.”

Source: Wall Street Journal