Forgetfulness vs. Alzheimer’s Disease

concerned-senior-coupleEvery senior has moments when he or she wonders if forgetfulness might mean something more serious is just around the corner. But the fact is that everyone, at every stage of life, sometimes forgets things. It can be related to forgetting where you put the car keys, not remembering an old friend’s name or discovering that the need return a library book slipped your memory. But how do you tell if it’s serious?

Here is a quick rundown on the differences between forgetfulness and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Is it Normal Forgetfulness or Could it Be Alzheimer’s?

Normal forgetfulness has a variety of causes, including:

  • Normal memory loss that comes with age

  • Stress

  • Not enough sleep

  • Medication side effects

Yet, sometimes it goes beyond normal forgetfulness. Here are some clues to help you tell the difference.

Normal forgetfulness: Problems retrieving a memory from long-term storage in your brain is a common type of mild forgetfulness. The way around it is to develop support methods like cueing and context. Taking a memory class or reading a book on the subject will supply more information.

Could be Alzheimer’s: Cueing and context don’t typically lead to improvement.

Normal forgetfulness: You might be finding it hard to concentrate and focus. This is common as a person ages.

Could be Alzheimer’s: The ability to concentrate keeps declining. Vocabulary skills and understanding how things relate to each other sharply decline. The individual has trouble remembering the order of things and who said what. He or she may even have trouble remembering that an event took place.

Normal forgetfulness: The individual is well aware that she is having trouble with her memory

Could be Alzheimer’s: The person is unaware of memory issues.

Normal forgetfulness: The person functions well, despite minor memory problems

Could be Alzheimer’s: The day-to-day ability to function declines as does memory. The individual often repeats things and has intrusions of memory. They eventually need Alzheimer’s care, in-home care or dementia care in Massachusetts.

When To Worry

If you notice problems described above, either in yourself or a loved one, be sure to schedule an  evaluation by a physician as soon as possible--especially if the symptoms have been occurring for a while. The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation reports that people who complain about their memory over long periods are more than four times more likely to develop cognitive impairment or dementia.

The good news is that if the assessment shows that there is a problem, the doctor can start treating you quickly. This can slow down the progress of the disease.

What To Do for Forgetfulness

Here are nine ways to help reduce the number of senior moments you experience:

  1. Learn something new: crafts, chess, a language, just about anything that requires thought.

  2. Volunteer.

  3. Make a to-do list every day.

  4. Use routines: put your keys, glasses and wallet in the same place all the time.

  5. Exercise.

  6. Eat nutrient dense foods and limit sugar and fat.

  7. Get a good night’s sleep.

  8. Limit or avoid alcohol.

  9. Get help if you feel depressed.

What tips do you use to help yourself or a loved one remember things better? We’d love to hear your advice, and they may help other caregivers. Please share in the comments below!




    Post your comments...