Dementia and Alzheimer’s: Is It Aging or Alzheimer’s?

September 22, 2019

Have you lost your memory?
We all forget things sometimes, especially when life gets busy. As you get older, you may start to notice this happening. Mild memory loss may be a normal part of aging. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop dementia.Only 1% of people over 65 with normal age-related memory problems get dementia each year.

When forgetfulness is a problem
If memory loss is making it difficult for you to handle everyday tasks, that’s a sign you shouldn’t ignore. Are you forgetting something you just heard? Asking the same question over and over again? Relying on lots of paper or electronic reminders to get through the day? If you or a family member notices that this has happened to you, consult your doctor.

Hard to plan, hard to solve?
Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Maybe you made a mistake in your checkbook last month, or paid the wrong amount on a bill. It’s a normal thing we all do. However, if you’re having a really hard time doing things like following directions in a familiar recipe or tracking your bills like you used to, this could be a warning sign of memory problems.

Struggling with the daily routine
Having trouble using your TV remote? Forgot how to set up the microwave? If you need a little help with these things once in a while, there’s likely nothing to worry about. But if you’re having trouble doing regular activities you’re used to doing, like driving to places you frequent, playing a favorite game, or finding your way around the grocery store, that could be a sign of a more serious memory problem.

Where did I park the car?
We’ve all been there. You come out of the store and think, “Now, where did I park my car?” It’s normal to occasionally forget where you parked your car. If it happens often, though, check with your doctor. It could be a warning sign of dementia.

I can’t find the key.
Most of the time when you forget where you put something, like your keys or your glasses, you should be able to think back, retrace your steps, and find whatever it is. If you notice that you keep losing things and you can’t go back and find them, that’s a common sign that there’s a bigger problem with your memory.

Lost track of time.
Most of us wake up and wonder, “What day is it?” It won’t take you long to figure it out. But if you often can’t remember dates, seasons, or the passage of time, that’s another sign of real memory problems.

How did I get here?
If you walk into a room and can’t remember what you’re doing, there’s no need to worry. It happens to all of us. But people with Alzheimer’s disease sometimes forget where they are. Or they find themselves somewhere, but they don’t remember how they got there. If you have the same problem, it’s best to seek help.

What’s the word for it?
Sometimes it’s normal to have trouble finding the right word. Or you may have used the wrong word. No worries. But people with Alzheimer’s often begin to have real problems with speaking or writing. They may find it difficult to recall the correct terms for familiar objects or the names of people they know well. If you’re having trouble with names, words, or what to say next, this could be a sign of more serious memory loss.

Withdrawal from friends and family
Are you running away from friends, family or colleagues? Is it difficult to continue or keep up with the conversation? When memory problems become more serious, people often lose interest in hobbies, social activities or other activities that they used to enjoy doing. If this sounds like you, it’s time to talk to someone about this problem.

memory test
If you’re not sure if what you’re experiencing is just regular aging, your doctor can help you figure it out. She will know if your memory loss is within the normal range. Your doctor will ask you a number of questions and may ask you to undergo a series of tests. She may also check to see if you have other problems that look like dementia, such as medication side effects or depression.

Is there anything I can do?
If your memory is fine, but you’re still worried, there may be something you can do. People who spend time reading, solving puzzles, or otherwise staying engaged are less likely to get Alzheimer’s. It’s possible that these activities can help you keep your mind sharp. Lowering your stress levels, eating right and exercising is also a good idea.