Have you ever forgotten a word as you’re speaking — and the longer it takes to recall, the more you wonder, “Is this normal memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease?” Many seniors can feel easily distracted, have difficulty multitasking, or forget things more often. It’s very common to wonder if these instances are normal parts of aging or signs of dementia.
The only way to receive an official diagnosis is to go through an evaluation by a doctor. But knowing common indicators of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia can help you decide if it’s time to make an appointment with a physician.
Is It Normal Memory Loss or Alzheimer’s Disease?
1. Losing Words
Don’t Worry: It’s perfectly normal to have momentary lapses when a specific word doesn’t come to you.
Could Be a Sign: Regularly forgetting words for familiar objects or finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate on a piece of writing or to follow the thread of a conversation may be early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Feeling Confused During Familiar Tasks
Don’t Worry: Nearly everyone has moments where they walk into a room and forget why they came in there.
Could Be a Sign: If tasks you perform every day become more challenging, you find yourself getting lost on familiar routes, have trouble performing common chores or putting together a to-do list, you might want to speak with your doctor.
3. Forgetting Things You Used to Know
Don’t Worry: You may not remember the name of a bridesmaid you haven’t spoken to since college or the store where you bought a favorite piece of furniture. These kinds of memories often fade over the years.
Could Be a Sign: A person showing signs of dementia may forget information they’ve just learned. They may forget what they did that same day or might repeat the same questions in a short period of time.
4. Misplacing Everyday Items
Don’t Worry: Forgetting where you set down your phone during the day or where you stored the international plug adapter after your last trip aren’t strong causes for concern. Chances are, you’ve been experiencing those types of snafus all your life (just about all of us have).
Could Be a Sign: If you or a loved one is habitually leaving items in incongruous places — like taco seasoning in an office drawer or a wallet in a bread box — that may be an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
5. Compromised Judgment
Don’t Worry: Sometimes we all take actions and later think to ourselves, “Why did I do that?” Maybe you get carried away in the moment and later wish you hadn’t bought a round for everyone in the pub. These decisions may leave us kicking ourselves, but they aren’t too worrisome.
Could Be a Sign: A more concerning indicator would be deviating from characteristic personal behaviors. A lifelong saver giving away large sums of money or valuable personal items without reasoning, or a fastidious person wearing inappropriate clothes to a special occasion could be signs of dementia.
6. Mood Swings
Don’t Worry: No one is pure sunshine all the time. You’re allowed to become frustrated, angry, sad or hurt without worrying about Alzheimer’s.
Could Be a Sign: Anxiety, disorientation or fear caused by dementia can inspire unexpected reactions, including hurtful words and even violence. And confusion and a sense of loneliness can cause depression.
If you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one because you’re not certain if the signs point to normal memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease, speak to a primary care physician, a neurologist or a geriatrician. Any of these doctors can evaluate a patient’s medical history, current medications and ongoing symptoms. If they find signs of dementia, they’ll begin a series of tests.
If you or your loved one receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, the right support can be immensely beneficial. Early intervention can slow progression, and provide time and space for the senior and their family members to create a plan.
When a senior needs full-time memory care, a trusted senior living community can provide the expert care, safe environment and specialized programming to make days more fulfilling. If you’re looking for memory care in Phoenix, Arizona, Desert Willow Assisted Living and Memory Care at Sagewood provides a person-centered approach to support in a homelike setting.
Each member of our memory care team is trained in Heartfelt CONNECTIONS – A Memory Care Program®, a comprehensive program based on the latest in memory care research and best practices. Heartfelt CONNECTIONS starts with getting to know each resident, focusing on their capabilities, and then celebrating each small success. This approach to care promotes dignity and a sense of accomplishment in day-to-day activities, supports improved self-worth, self-esteem, and overall health and well-being; and reduces fear, anxiety, and frustration.
Discover more information about pricing, residences, services and amenities on our Memory Care page.