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Is Forgetfulness Getting the Best of You? Neurologist Ben Tseng’s Approach to Treating Memory Loss

Neurologist Ben Tseng’s Approach to Treating Memory Loss
Photo: Ben Tseng MD, Neurologist, Torrance Memorial IPA

Memory loss is one of the biggest health concerns you’ll ever face. Six out of ten seniors admit to having trouble remembering names… four out of ten say confusion cause problems in their daily lives… and one in eight report their memories are getting worse.*

“Narrowing down the cause of forgetfulness and memory loss is critical to improving memory performance in the future,” explains Dr. Ben Tseng, a neurologist with Torrance Memorial Physician Network. That’s why Dr. Tseng gives all of his patients with memory difficulty ahead to toe examination.

“We do cognitive screening to rate memory function, we interview the patient, family members or caregivers to find out which memory tasks are affected,” says Dr. Tseng. “We also do a full physical exam and laboratory work up to look for an underlying medical problem.”

Medical problems that can contribute to worsening memory function include malnutrition, sleep apnea, thyroid imbalance or mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

“Depression is a big one in the senior population,” explains Dr. Tseng. “Most people don’t realize that depression can make memory loss worse. It’s important to treat the brain and the mind simultaneously.”

Dr. Tseng recommends all of his patients stay as active as possible. Physical activity is linked to lower levels of depression in seniors. Lifestyle change can also improve memory function.

“People talk about dietary changes, including gluten avoidance, or using different types of spices such as turmeric, but nothing has really panned out clinically as having a drastic effect improving memory,” says Dr. Tseng. “However, some of these things do help some people. Everyone is different and can benefit from an individualized treatment program.”

When other medical problems have been accounted for, and the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia is being considered, medications will often be prescribed.

“Medication can improve cognitive function,” explains Dr. Tseng. “
Unfortunately, because Alzheimer’s dementia cannot be cured, as soon as you stop the medication, the cognitive impairment may become worse. Medication does not reverse the underlying problem or slow down progression of Alzheimer’s dementia.”

Even though there’s no cure, an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can make a difference in future memory function.

“We can pick up subtle cognitive impairment during examination,” says Dr. Tseng. “We can monitor the patient and begin a treatment plan to improve memory function. There is value in getting a neurological exam if you’re concerned about your memory loss.”

If you have any of these common memory problems talk to your doctor…

  • Loss of recent memory such as forgetting names, faces or places.
  • Difficulty doing financial tasks such as balancing the checkbook, paying bills or giving the correct change.
  • Trouble with activities of daily living such as making a meal, showering or getting dressed.