Saturday, January 7, 2012

Symptoms of Alzheimers Disease vs. Normal Memory Loss

Are you getting forgetful?
As much as we joke about it, most of us start to worry every time we forget an appointment, or misplace our keys.  Is this the first sign of dementia?  Could we be developing Alzheimers?  These are serious fears, because none of us want to become dependent on our spouses or children.  We don't want to spend our final years in a fog of forgetfulness.  So, how do we know if this is normal memory loss, or a sign of developing dementia?

Normal Memory Loss

According to the website for Alzheimers Disease, there are clear differences.  

* In the case of normal memory loss, it is not unusual to occasionally forget names or appointments.  After all, we live busy lives and things will sometimes slip our minds!  

* It is also normal to occasionally walk into a room and forget why you are there.  

* It is not unusual to start to say something, and then forget what you were going to say.  Most of us will also sometimes struggle to find the right word ... insisting that it is "right on the tip of our tongue."  

* Once you retire, you may also sometimes get confused about what day of the week it is, and where you have to be.  

* Certain daily activities can become more difficult as we age, such as balancing a checkbook or remembering where we put something, like our wallet our keys.  

* It is also a normal part of aging to sometimes feel sad or moody.

Warning Signs of Alzheimers or Dementia

If all of those behaviors are normal, when should we be concerned about our memory loss, or changes in the behavior of someone we love?  

* One key sign of serious memory loss is if we begin to forget information that we recently learned, or we become unable to do things that we have routinely done for years, such as prepare a meal, make a phone call, or play a game.  

* A person who is developing Alzheimers may have trouble remembering the names of common items, such as a toothbrush or pencil.  

* Alzheimers also causes people to easily become disoriented; they may get lost in their own communities, and not know how to get home.  

*  There are often behavioral changes, such as wearing the wrong clothing for the weather, or giving away large sums of money.  In fact, dealing with numbers and money can become a huge challenge for them. 

*  They may also frequently misplace items because they have put them in strange places.  In addition, they may experience major mood swings with little reason.

What to do if You Suspect Dementia is Affecting You or Someone Else

If you suspect that you, or someone you love, could be developing problems more serious than normal memory loss, you will want to see your doctor.  There are treatments that could slow down the process.

You will also want to get all the information about the disease that you possibly can.  For example, some forms of dementia could be caused by medication, lack of sleep or other problems.  In those cases, some simple changes could completely reverse it.

If you are living with someone with Alzheimer's, you may feel uncertain about how to communicate with them.  If so, a friend of mine recently wrote a beautiful article called "How to Help a Person With Alzheimers and Yourself."  You will find this article is very helpful as you try to navigate the complexities of living with an Alzheimer's patient.

If you are looking for more information about retirement planning, common health issues, where to retire, changing family relationships and more, use the tabs or pull down menus at the top of this page for links to hundreds of additional articles.

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(photo courtesy of
(facts about Alzheimers from


  1. Caring for someone with Alzheimers Disease within the family, brings worries that are best approached through good preparation.

    Alzheimer Clinic

  2. Thank you for your comments. You are absolutely right about the importance of good preparation if you will be caring for an Alzheimers patient in your home.


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