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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

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Some forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. However, some people have more memory problems than other people their age. This condition is called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. People with MCI can take care of themselves and do their normal activities.

MCI memory problems may include:

  • Losing things often
  • Forgetting to go to events and appointments
  • Having more trouble coming up with words than other people of the same age

Memory problems can also have other causes, including certain medicines and diseases that affect the blood vessels that supply the brain. Some of the problems brought on by these conditions can be managed or reversed.

Your health care provider can do thinking, memory, and language tests to see if you have MCI. You may also need to see a specialist for more tests. Because MCI may be an early sign of Alzheimer's disease, it's really important to see your health care provider every 6 to 12 months.

At this time, there is no proven drug treatment for MCI. Your health care provider can check to see if you have any changes in your memory or thinking skills over time.

NIH: National Institute on Aging

Neurologic Diseases

The brain, spinal cord, and nerves make up the nervous system. Together they control all the workings of the body. When something goes wrong with a part of your nervous system, you can have trouble moving, speaking, swallowing, breathing, or learning. You can also have problems with your memory, senses, or mood.

There are more than 600 neurologic diseases. Major types include:

  • Diseases caused by faulty genes, such as Huntington's disease and muscular dystrophy
  • Problems with the way the nervous system develops, such as spina bifida
  • Degenerative diseases, where nerve cells are damaged or die, such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease
  • Diseases of the blood vessels that supply the brain, such as stroke
  • Injuries to the spinal cord and brain
  • Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy
  • Cancer, such as brain tumors
  • infections, such as meningitis

Nursing Homes

A nursing home is a place for people who don't need to be in a hospital but can't be cared for at home. Most nursing homes have nursing aides and skilled nurses on hand 24 hours a day.

Some nursing homes are set up like a hospital. The staff provides medical care, as well as physical, speech and occupational therapy. There might be a nurses' station on each floor. Other nursing homes try to be more like home. They try to have a neighborhood feel. Often, they don't have a fixed day-to-day schedule, and kitchens might be open to residents. Staff members are encouraged to develop relationships with residents.

Some nursing homes have special care units for people with serious memory problems such as Alzheimer's disease. Some will let couples live together. Nursing homes are not only for older adults, but for anyone who requires 24-hour care.

NIH: National Institute on Aging

Oxygen Therapy

What is oxygen?

Oxygen is a gas that your body needs to work properly. Your cells need oxygen to make energy. Your lungs absorb oxygen from the air you breathe. The oxygen enters your blood from your lungs and travels to your organs and body tissues.

Certain medical conditions can cause your blood oxygen levels to be too low. Low blood oxygen may make you feel short of breath, tired, and confused. It can also damage your body. Oxygen therapy can help you get more oxygen.

What is oxygen therapy?

Oxygen therapy is a treatment that provides you with extra oxygen to breathe in. It is also called supplemental oxygen. It is only available through a prescription from your health care provider. You may get it in the hospital, another medical setting, or at home. Some people only need it for a short period of time. Others will need long-term oxygen therapy.

There are different types of devices that can give you oxygen. Some use tanks of liquid or gas oxygen. Others use an oxygen concentrator, which pulls oxygen out of the air. You will get the oxygen through a nose tube (cannula), a mask, or a tent. The extra oxygen is breathed in along with normal air.

There are portable versions of the tanks and oxygen concentrators. They can make it easier for you to move around while using your therapy.

Who needs oxygen therapy?

You may need oxygen therapy if you have a condition that causes low blood oxygen, such as:

  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Pneumonia
  • COVID-19
  • A severe asthma attack
  • Late-stage heart failure
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Sleep apnea
What are the risks of using oxygen therapy?

Oxygen therapy is generally safe, but it can cause side effects. They include a dry or bloody nose, tiredness, and morning headaches.

Oxygen poses a fire risk, so you should never smoke or use flammable materials when using oxygen. If you use oxygen tanks, make sure your tank is secured and stays upright. If it falls and cracks or the top breaks off, the tank can fly like a missile.

What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a different type of oxygen therapy. It involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber or tube. That allows your lungs to gather up to three times more oxygen than you would get by breathing oxygen at normal air pressure. The extra oxygen moves through your blood and to your organs and body tissues.

HBOT is used to treat certain serious wounds, burns, injuries, and infections. It also treats air or gas embolisms (bubbles of air in your bloodstream), decompression sickness suffered by divers, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

But some treatment centers claim that HBOT can treat almost anything, including Alzheimer's disease, autism, cancer, and Lyme disease. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not cleared or approved the use of HBOT for these conditions. There are risks to using HBOT, so always check with your provider before you try it.