What’s the Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Normal Memory Loss?

a senior with her granddaughter with their arms wrapped around each other

Many of us get a little forgetful as we get older. We forget where we put our keys. We go into a room and momentarily forget why we went there. Or much to our embarrassment, we have trouble remembering people’s names.

As frustrating as these short-term memory lapses are, there’s no reason to worry yourself sick about them. Most people experience some age-related memory loss in their 70s and 80s. Some people start to notice it as early as their 50s.

But memory loss can be a symptom of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting one in 10 people 65 and older. Signs of Alzheimer’s may include memory loss, but the disease also affects your ability to think clearly, use language and be your normal, cheerful self.

If memory problems are going beyond the occasional “Where did I put my glasses?” and people around you are noticing your forgetfulness, have your doctor check it out to see what’s going on. It may not be dementia after all. Memory loss and confusion can be caused by any number of things, such as urinary tract infection, abnormal blood sugar levels, vitamin B12 deficiency, sleep apnea, thyroid problems, medication side effects, or alcohol abuse.

 

Normal Memory Loss Associated With Aging

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of the aging process. Normal age-related declines are subtle and mostly affect processing speed and attention control. It’s perfectly normal to experience a senior moment, such as forgetting a name or something you were told, only to remember it later.

To slow down some of the normal cognitive decline associated with aging and memory loss, eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, reduce stress levels and stay connected with others. It also helps to challenge yourself, experience new things and learn something new. This encourages the growth of new brain cells and stimulates the connections between them. Scientists call this process neurogenesis. What it means is that you can improve your ability to process and store memories well into old age with new brain cells and new neural networks. So much for age-related memory loss!

 

10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

People with Alzheimer’s have an especially hard time remembering recent events. Finding the right word, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment may also signal early stages of Alzheimer’s. If you or someone you know is displaying any of these signs, see your doctor. It may not be Alzheimer’s but, if it is, there are medications that can help.

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life

2. Difficulty with planning and problem solving

3. Problems finding the right word

4. Confusion about time and place

5. Poor judgment

6. Increasing clumsiness

7. Misplacing things

8. Mood changes

9. Loss of interest and initiative

10. Changes in personality

 

Memory care at Freedom Pointe.

Memory care at Freedom Pointe provides a specially designed, whole-person approach to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Residents live in a safe, secure, supportive community.

We believe the abilities that remain are far more important than those that are lost. Programs and activities are personalized to each resident’s interests and abilities. Our goal is to connect them with things that bring meaning and joy. To learn how we can help your loved one with memory loss, contact us.