Is it forgetfulness or early signs of Alzheimer's?

Published On: Sep 24 2012 10:46:41 AM EDT
Updated On: Oct 08 2012 11:42:47 AM EDT
Father, son

By Erika, Pure Matters

I have moments of forgetfulness regularly, whether I’m trying to recall where I put the car keys, what was next on my “To Do” list, or how I was planning to end a sentence. Forgetfulness can lead right into frustration, taking me out of the moment, wasting precious time, and raising concern about whether there’s a bigger problem. But, not to worry, absentmindedness isn’t always a sign of a health problem like Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

There’s a difference between misplacing your glasses and more serious memory impairments that disrupt your daily life. We’ve put together a guide to help you spot the difference between signs of normal forgetfulness and signs of Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or other memory-related illnesses.

Forgetfulness Not To Fret Over
Forgetfulness can be normal, and not a cause for concern, in many situations. As we age, it takes longer to learn new information and it’s more difficult to retain information. Stress, anxiety, and depression can also cause memory problems.

Other normal reasons for forgetfulness that shouldn’t be cause for concern include the following:

  • Forgetting appointments once in a while, but remembering them later.
  • Making occasional mistakes when doing an everyday task.
  • Occasionally misplacing items.

If any of these symptoms are ongoing or become worse, make an appointment with your doctor, who may recommend medication or counseling. If your forgetfulness is a normal response to stress, a major life change, or depression, your memory should improve as you begin feeling better.

Early Signs of Alzheimer’s or other Memory-Related Health Concerns
Dementia is the loss of memory, thinking, and reasoning skills that interferes with your daily activities. Dementia is a group of symptoms caused by diseases like Alzheimer’s. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s start slowly, but steadily become more serious.

Signs of a serious memory concern like Alzheimer’s or dementia may include:

  • Repeatedly forgetting appointments, events, or names of family or friends.
  • Finding it extremely difficult or impossible to complete everyday tasks that used to be easy, like managing a budget or driving to a familiar location.
  • Confusion with time or place.
  • Withdrawal from social activities and work.
  • Difficulty having a conversation and/or trouble remembering the words for everyday objects.
  • Neglecting personal safety, nutrition, and cleanliness.

Alzheimer’s is more common in people over 65, but can occur in adults as young as 40. If you’ve experienced some of these signs, or you have concerns about your memory, make an appointment with your doctor. There are medications that could help with some types of dementia, depending on the stage and symptoms.

Tips on Keeping your Memory Sharp
If you suffer from occasional forgetfulness, some of these actions may help keep your memory in shape:

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