Memory Loss: What is Normal?

These days, we’re bombarded with information from every direction. With so much to keep track of, it’s no wonder that we all experience forgetfulness, especially as we grow older. How do you decide if your loved one’s memory loss is a normal part of aging or indicative that something more serious is going on? Keep reading to learn about the differences between normal age-related memory changes and the warning signs of Alzheimer’s.

What is Normal?

It’s natural to feel alarmed when you or your loved one experiences forgetfulness. However, our ability to store information does change as we get older, and generally, there is no cause for concern. With normal age-related memory changes, your loved one may recall an event but perhaps not all of the details. Typically, they are able to follow written and spoken directions, and they are able to continue safely caring for themselves. They may forget what the date is and then later remember, they may occasionally forget which word to use or they may misplace things from time to time. With normal memory lapses, using notes as a reminder is effective; this technique is rarely useful for those suffering from dementia.

The Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

Some memory loss may be normal as we age, but these symptoms are not. Here are 10 indicators provided by the Alzheimer’s Association that it’s time to speak with your loved one’s doctor about dementia.

  1. Memory Loss Interferes with Everyday Life- One of the most telling indicators of Alzheimer’s is when your loved one forgets recently learned information. They may ask the same question over and over or forget important dates.
  2. Difficulty Following and Participating in a Conversation- Occasionally having difficulty finding the right word is a frustration that everyone experiences, but someone with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty carrying on a conversation or calling a thing by the wrong name (ie.”hand clock” instead of “watch”).
  3. Vision Problems-  Vision changes that are related to cataracts are normal, but for some people, determining colors or judging distances may be indicative of the onset of dementia.
  4. Confusion with Time or Place- People with Alzheimer’s often live in the moment, and they may become confused by something that is not happening right then. For example, they may forget where they are and how they got there.
  5. Challenges with Planning- Someone in the beginning stages of dementia may struggle with building a plan and following through with it. They may experience difficulty with following a recipe or creating a monthly budget.
  6. Misplacing Objects- We all absentmindedly lay things down when we’re distracted, but someone with Alzheimer’s may regularly place things in strange places, such as their house keys in the refrigerator. They lose the ability to retrace their steps to find lost objects, and they may accuse others of stealing their belongings.
  7. Withdrawal from Hobbies and Social Activities- As dementia progresses, the sufferer may forget how to complete their favorite hobbies, and anything outside of their normal daily routine may become increasingly stressful.
  8. Changes in Personality or Mood- Alzheimer’s brings on a slew of emotions, and a sufferer may begin to exhibit depression and behavioral changes.
  9. Poor Judgment- A senior with Alzheimer’s may display poor judgment in the way that they manage their money, or they may pay less attention to personal grooming and hygiene.
  10. Inability to Complete Familiar Tasks- Someone with Alzheimer’s may struggle to remember the rules of their favorite game, a familiar driving route or managing a budget.

If you suspect that your loved one is in the beginning stages of dementia, intervention and support is crucial to their health, safety and quality of life. To learn more about our state-of-the-art memory care services and programs, contact one of our Sagepoint Advisors today.