Memory Loss: Disease or Normal Aging?

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Those of us dealing with our own aging or that of aging parents often wonder which symptoms are normal memory loss and which signal Alzheimer’s.

The Alzheimer’s Association has developed a practical chart comparing which symptoms of memory loss are normal and which should cause concern of a serious illness. People used to believe that memory loss was a normal part of aging, even the severe symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s. Experts have since discovered that severe memory loss is a sign of serious illness.

Dementia is a general term for loss of memory while Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 50 to 70 percent of cases. The national website for the Alzheimer’s Association has a great deal of helpful information for those who want to study more details than listed below.

Here are excerpts of the 10 comparative symptoms of memory loss.

For the full article, see the Alzheimer’s Associations Warning Signs page. It should be noted that not everyone will experience the same symptoms or progress at the same rate. If you are worried about memory changes in yourself or a loved one, you can call with your questions 1.866.ALZ.4199.

1. Memory Loss

Normal – Forgetting names or appointments occasionally.
Warning Sign – Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common early signs.

2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks

Normal – Occasionally forgetting why you entered a room or what you were going to say.
Warning Sign – Hard to plan or complete everyday tasks. Lose track of the steps involved in preparing a meal, placing a telephone call or playing a game.

3. Problems with language

Normal – Occasionally having trouble finding the right word.
Warning Sign – Often forget simple words or substitute unusual words.

4. Disorientation to time and place

Normal – Forgetting the day of the week or where you were going.
Warning Sign – Become lost in own neighborhood and not know how to get back home.

5. Poor or decreased judgment

Normal – Occasionally making a questionable or debatable decision.
Warning Sign – Dress inappropriately for weather or occasion. Show poor judgment, like giving away large sums of money to telemarketers.

6. Problems with abstract thinking

Normal – Finding it challenging to balance a checkbook.
Warning Sign – Have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are for and how they should be used

7. Misplacing things

Normal – Misplacing keys or a wallet temporarily.
Warning Sign – May put things in unusual places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.

8. Changes in mood or behavior

Normal – Occasionally feeling sad or moody.
Warning Sign – Rapid mood swings – from calm to tears to anger – for no apparent reason.

9. Changes in personality

Normal – Personalities do change somewhat with age.
Warning Sign – Personality changes dramatically. May become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful or dependent on a family member.

10. Loss of initiative

Normal – Sometimes feeling weary of work or social obligations.
Warning Sign – Become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual or not wanting to do usual activities.

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One Response to “Memory Loss: Disease or Normal Aging?”

  1. Dementia Linked to Vitamin B-12 Deficiency | Says:

    […] Post:  Memory Loss: Disease or Normal Aging?  Use the article title-link and go through this check list to see if your own or a loved […]

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