Alzheimer’s vs. Normal Memory Loss

Alzheimer’s vs. Normal Memory Loss

What Causes Memory Loss in the Elderly?

As we enter our later years of life, simple acts of forgetfulness become common daily occurrences. Perhaps you walked into a room and have no idea what your purpose there was supposed to be. Or, maybe you suddenly walk out of the grocery store in a panic because you’ve forgotten where you parked your car.

While one might jump to the conclusion that you’re clearly displaying some of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, these small lapses in memory are considered quite normal by aging experts. There are actually a few different things that can cause memory loss in the elderly, like side effects from taking several medications at once, lack of proper sleep, or conditions like depression, for example.

Normal Memory Loss vs. Alzheimer’s Symptoms

There can also be some biological issues that affect our memories as we age. For one, blood flow to the brain can decrease in seniors, which affects both cognitive skills and memory. Also, the region of the brain known as the hippocampus begins to deteriorate, affecting our ability to form and retrieve some memories. Finally, some of the proteins and hormones that repair and protect brain cells also decline with age.

However, it’s important to note that some of the milder Alzheimer’s symptoms that occur in the early stages of the disease can be very similar to normal memory loss that comes with older age. Visit your doctor if you’re experiencing any signs of Alzheimer’s disease, as it is too difficult for a non-medical professional to determine if there is truly cause for concern. The differences between normal memory loss and signs of Alzheimer’s disease are outlined below:

Normal Memory Loss

These types of memory lapses are generally considered normal among aging adults:

  • Easily getting distracted, leaving projects unfinished while moving on to the next one
  • Misplacing or forgetting where you left certain things, like your keys, wallet, glasses, purse, etc.
  • Trouble explaining or recalling information you just read or heard
  • Addressing loved ones or friends by the wrong name — like calling your granddaughter by your sister’s name
  • Missing appointments when they are not written down on a calendar
  • Forgetting the names of new acquaintances
  • Difficulty retrieving information that’s on the tip of your tongue

The good news is that if you continue to engage your brain with mental activity, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and take care to reduce stress levels in your life, you can actually slow down some of this normal cognitive decline that comes with aging.

Alzheimer’s Symptoms

It can be difficult to properly diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages. However, experts agree that the sooner you receive a diagnosis, the sooner treatment can begin, which may slow the disease’s progression. Some of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Difficulty performing everyday tasks, like dressing, taking care of personal hygiene or managing the household budget
  • Becoming lost or disoriented in familiar places
  • Forgetting how to take part in activities you’ve always been involved in, like not remembering the rules to your favorite card game
  • Mixing up or misusing words, or having trouble recalling the right word for everyday objects
  • Displaying poor judgment or making poor life choices
  • Forgetting a loved one’s name
  • Difficulty recalling the details of recent events

It’s important to note that memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease is a disabling form of cognitive decline that affects your daily life. It can disrupt your relationships and social life, your career, your hobbies and more. If you are concerned about any recent changes in your memory, or an aging loved one’s memory, it’s imperative to see a doctor so a proper diagnosis can be given as soon as possible.

Specialized Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care at Advent Christian Village

Find compassionate Alzheimer’s and dementia care at Advent Christian Village. Our staff is specially-trained to provide not only the best possible care for you but to help support your loved ones, too. Contact us today for more information.

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