Memory Loss, Is it Alzheimer’s?

by Nancy Wurtzel on November 18, 2015

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It’s common for older adults to experience some memory issues and forgetfulness. However, when should someone be concerned about memory lapses?  When is it Alzheimer’s and when is memory loss a byproduct of normal aging?

Warning signs are often misunderstood.  Take, Janet, for example.

Janet, an active 82-year-old widow, often forgets where she left her glasses or finds it difficult to think of someone’s name.  Minutes or hours later Janet finds the forgotten name will suddenly pop into her head and she eventually finds her glasses — right where she left them.

Are Memory Lapses a Sign of Dementia?

Recently, Janet’s son and daughter took her to the doctor for an annual check-up. When the physician asked Janet to tell him the day of the week, she couldn’t. Janet was flustered and appeared overwhelmed.  However, after a few minutes, she rebounded, telling her doctor the correct year and informing him it was the third Tuesday in October.  Janet was also able to answer other questions accurately.

Although she had initially faltered, Janet had rebounded nicely and her physician was impressed. In fact, the doctor concluded Janet’s minor forgetful moments are simply a normal progression of aging.

The Alzheimer’s Association — the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research — has identified a list of ten memory warning signs. Keep in mind that individuals may experience one or more of these symptoms and in varying degrees.

Ten Alzheimer’s Warning Signs

  1. Memory loss that causes disruption to daily life
  2. Challenges in areas such as planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place and/or inability to tell time
  5. Trouble understanding visual images or spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Altered, decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Marked changes in mood and personality

Do you know someone who is experiencing a number of these symptoms?  If yes, it is a good idea to visit a primary-care doctor for an evaluation.

The doctor may conclude the memory issues are the result of a health condition that can be easily treated, or the symptoms might also be signs of dementia symptoms.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most-common form of dementia.

Early Memory Testing is Important

A first reaction might be to avoid confronting memory problems, hoping they will go away with time. But the problems are not likely to resolve on their own and early detection has its benefits.

Early detection allows a person to explore treatments that may provide some relief of symptoms and perhaps maintain a longer period of independence. Those in the earlier stages may also increase their chances of participating in clinical drug trials.  Second, information is power. Knowing the cause of your memory problems will help you, and your family prepare for the future. You will be able to make decisions about a care plan, living options as well as financial and legal matters.

Finally, an early diagnosis, gives everyone involved the time to adjust, accept and eventually seek assistance from others, including care and support groups.

*Photo Purchased From Dollar Photo Club


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