How to tell if your memory loss is normal or a sign of Alzheimer’s
The term “senior moment” was aptly coined because the truth is we get forgetful as we age. This is a completely normal part of being an aging human, and shouldn’t be an immediate cause for concern. Unless memory loss is extreme or persistent, it is not considered a sign of Alzheimer’s.
It’s important to remember that memory loss can be caused by numerous situations and diseases. Even if you aren’t concerned its dementia, it could be worth chatting with a doctor to see if your memory loss is a symptom of something treatable.
Common causes of memory loss in seniors include:
- Aging – change of hormone levels, physical deterioration, decreased blood flow
- Medication side effects
- Nutritional deficiency
If you’ve ruled out the above but can’t shake the feeling your memory loss is more serious than simple aging, keep reading. We’ve compiled 5 of the most common signs of dementia. Hopefully, this list will put you at ease, but if the more severe examples sound like you or a loved one, it is a good idea to meet with a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Potential Warning Signs of Dementia:
1) Memory loss that impedes function in daily life
Short term memory loss, misplacing objects, and struggling to complete everyday tasks can all be signs of dementia.
Aging seniors sometimes find themselves forgetting the name of a person they just met, losing their keys, or fumbling with their internet browser because they’ve forgotten how it works.
With normal forgetfulness, these memories will come back to you later once you’ve retraced your steps or jogged your memory with a sticky note.
There is cause for concern, however, if you are consistently finding yourself forgetting details about your life or how things work. People who have dementia find that they are dependent on other people or memory tools to function day-to-day.
2) Increase in poor decision-making
Poor decision-making certainly isn’t a trait uniquely attributed to those with dementia, it is a problem that can plague all ages.
This can be an indication of a more serious condition, however, when the poor decision-making is a personality change or if the poor decisions are extreme. Suddenly losing consistency with hygiene or making highly irresponsible financial decisions can be signs of dementia.
3) Difficulty with communication
This goes beyond the common feeling of trying to grasp an evasive word. If something feels like it’s on the tip of your tongue, it probably is.
Questions of dementia come into play when someone has trouble following a conversation. They lose track of where they are in the discussion, either by skipping important elements of the topic or repeating themselves without awareness. They can also have a hard time with vocabulary, both by forgetting common words or simply using incorrect words.
4) Confusion with time or place
Forgetting what day of the week it is or why you went into the kitchen are examples of a normal memory fault. These little memory hiccups usually resolve themselves when the answer comes back to you a few minutes later.
A sign of dementia is when you lose track of what year it is, don’t recognize the passing of seasons, or get confused by timelines. Experiencing the past as the present or displaying confusion if things aren’t happening immediately are common behaviors of a person with dementia.
5) Change of personality
There can be many causes for a change in personality, and many of them are common amongst seniors and have nothing to do with dementia. While not the most definitive sign of dementia, it is important to keep an eye on behavioral change when it happens alongside memory loss.
Because of the difficulty in holding a conversation, the challenge of remembering the rules of a game, or the frustration with not being able to remember how to navigate simple daily tasks, people with dementia can often withdraw from family, friends, and hobbies. Fear, anxiety, depression, paranoia, and confusion can also accompany dementia.
So, what do you do if you recognize some of the more indicative signs of dementia in your behavior or the behavior of someone you love? It is important not to delay in meeting with a doctor. Early detection is important in diagnosing Alzheimer’s. Bring someone along with you who can offer support, but who can also help you make sense of what is being discussed. Whether or not dementia is diagnosed, it is worth getting a definitive answer from a medical professional if you’re concerned.