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Memory

Every day, you have different experiences and you learn new things. Your brain cannot store all of that information, so it has to decide what is worth remembering. Memory is the process of storing and then remembering this information. There are different types of memory. Short-term memory stores information for a few seconds or minutes. Long-term memory stores it for a longer period of time.

Memory doesn't always work perfectly. As you grow older, it may take longer to remember things.

It's normal to forget things once in a while. We've all forgotten a name, where we put our keys, or if we locked the front door. If you are an older adult who forget things more often than others your age, you may have mild cognitive impairment. Forgetting how to use your phone or find your way home may be signs of a more serious problem, such as:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Other types of dementia
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Head injuries
  • Blood clots or tumors in the brain
  • Kidney, liver, or thyroid problems
  • Reactions to certain medicines

If you're worried about your forgetfulness, see your health care provider.

NIH: National Institute on Aging

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

What is progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)?

Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a rare brain disease. It happens because of damage to nerve cells in the brain. PSP affects your movement, including control of your walking and balance. It also affects your thinking and eye movement.

PSP is progressive, which means that it gets worse over time.

What causes progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)?

The cause of PSP is unknown. In rare cases, the cause is a mutation in a certain gene.

One sign of PSP is abnormal clumps of tau in nerve cells in the brain. Tau is a protein in your nervous system, including in nerve cells. Some other diseases also cause a buildup of tau in the brain, including Alzheimer's disease.

Who is at risk for progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)?

PSP usually affects people over 60, but in some cases it can start earlier. It is more common in men.

What are the symptoms of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)?

Symptoms are very different in each person, but they may include:

  • A loss of balance while walking. This is often the first symptom.
  • Speech problems
  • Trouble swallowing
  • A blurring of vision and problems controlling eye movement
  • Changes in mood and behavior, including depression and apathy (a loss of interest and enthusiasm)
  • Mild dementia
How is progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP0 diagnosed?

There is no specific test for PSP. It can be difficult to diagnose, because the symptoms are similar to other diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.

To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will take your medical history and do physical and neurological exams. You may have an MRI or other imaging tests.

What are the treatments for progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)?

There is currently no effective treatment for PSP. Medicines may reduce some symptoms. Some non-drug treatments, such as walking aids and special glasses, may also help. People with severe swallowing problems may need gastrostomy. This is a surgery to insert a feeding tube into the stomach.

PSP gets worse over time. Many people become severely disabled within three to five years after getting it. PSP isn't life-threatening on its own. It can still be be dangerous, because it increases your risk of pneumonia, choking from swallowing problems, and injuries from falling. But with good attention to medical and nutritional needs, many people with PSP can live 10 or more years after the first symptoms of the disease.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that test how well new medical approaches work in people. Each study answers scientific questions and tries to find better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose, or treat a disease. Clinical trials may also compare a new treatment to a treatment that is already available.

Every clinical trial has a protocol, or action plan, for conducting the trial. The plan describes what will be done in the study, how it will be conducted, and why each part of the study is necessary. Each study has its own rules about who can take part. Some studies need volunteers with a certain disease. Some need healthy people. Others want just men or just women.

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews, monitors, and approves many clinical trials. It is an independent committee of physicians, statisticians, and members of the community. Its role is to:

  • Make sure that the study is ethical
  • Protect the rights and welfare of the participants
  • Make sure that the risks are reasonable when compared to the potential benefits

In the United States, a clinical trial must have an IRB if it is studying a drug, biological product, or medical device that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates, or it is funded or carried out by the federal government.

NIH: National Institutes of Health

Down Syndrome

What is Down syndrome?

Down syndrome is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome or an extra piece of a chromosome. This extra copy changes how a baby's body and brain develop. It can cause both mental and physical challenges during their lifetime. Even though people with Down syndrome might act and look similar, each person has different abilities.

What causes Down syndrome?

Chromosomes are tiny "packages" in your cells that contain your genes. Genes carry information, called DNA, that controls what you look like and how your body works. People with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21. In some cases, they may have an extra copy of part of the chromosome. Having an extra copy of a chromosome is called trisomy. So sometimes Down syndrome is also called trisomy 21.

Down syndrome is usually not inherited. It happens by chance, as an error when cells are dividing during early development of the fetus. It is not known for sure why Down syndrome occurs or how many different factors play a role.

One factor that increases the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome is the age of the mother. Women ages 35 and older are more likely to have a baby with Down syndrome.

What are the symptoms of Down syndrome?

The symptoms of Down syndrome are different in each person. And people with Down syndrome may have different problems at different times of their lives. They usually have mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. Their development is often delayed. For example, they may start talking later than other children.

Some of the common physical signs of Down syndrome include:

  • A flat face
  • Eyes that slant up
  • A short neck
  • Small hands and feet
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Loose joints
What other problems does Down syndrome cause?

Many people with Down syndrome have the common physical signs and have healthy lives. But some people with Down syndrome might have one or more birth defects or other health problems. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Sleep apnea (a disorder that causes you to repeatedly stop breathing during sleep)
  • Ear infections
  • Eye diseases
  • Congenital heart defects (heart defects that are present at birth)
  • Digestive problems
  • Problems with the upper part of the spine
  • Obesity
How is Down syndrome diagnosed?

Health care providers can check for Down syndrome during pregnancy or after a child is born.

There are two basic types of tests that help find Down syndrome during pregnancy:

  • Prenatal screening tests can show whether your unborn baby has a higher or lower chance of having Down syndrome. If a screening test shows that your baby could have Down syndrome, you'll need another test to find out for sure.
  • Prenatal diagnostic tests can diagnose or rule out Down syndrome by checking the chromosomes in a sample of cells.

These tests have a small risk of causing a miscarriage, so they're often done after a screening test shows that an unborn baby could have Down syndrome.

After a baby is born, the provider may make an initial diagnosis of Down syndrome based on the physical signs of the syndrome. The provider can use a karyotype genetic test to confirm the diagnosis. The test can check for extra chromosomes in a sample of the baby's blood.

What are the treatments for Down syndrome?

There is no single, standard treatment for Down syndrome. Treatments are based on each person's physical and intellectual needs, strengths, and limitations.

Services early in life focus on helping children with Down syndrome develop to their full potential. These services include speech, occupational, and physical therapies. They are typically offered through early intervention programs in each state. Children with Down syndrome may also need extra help or attention in school, although many children are included in regular classes.

Since people with Down syndrome can have birth defects and other health problems, they will need regular medical care. They may need to have certain extra health screenings to check for problems that happen more often in people with Down syndrome.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Impaired Driving

Impaired driving is dangerous. It's the cause of more than half of all car crashes. It means operating a motor vehicle while you are affected by:

  • Alcohol
  • Legal or illegal drugs
  • Sleepiness
  • Distractions, such as using a cell phone or texting
  • Having a medical condition which affects your driving

For your safety and the safety of others, do not drive while impaired. Have someone else drive you or take public transportation when you cannot drive. If you need to take a call or send a text message, pull over.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration