The Signs and Symptoms of Age Related Memory Loss
As we age, there are some of the body’s processes that slow down or become impaired through the normal course of aging. Among these conditions is age related memory loss, which can be as simple as forgetting someone’s name until later, or misplacing your keys. However, if you find yourself or your loved one always looking for items, or consistently forgetting people or places, then there may be an underlying condition to blame for the memory loss.
Most people will deal with some memory loss with age. Usually people report small losses of memory, such as misplacing everyday items or forgetting an appointment time. You may have to learn to work with yourself to write more lists, or follow your calendar more closely as you age. These are common signs of aging, not necessarily symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
The Beginning Symptoms of Age Related Memory Loss
Memory loss occurs in most adults starting around the age of 60. That does not mean you will experience symptoms right at 60 — you may be in your 50’s, or in your 90’s when you notice your memory is impaired. The important part of normal memory loss is that it does not affect your day to day living. When you find yourself forgetting a name, or an appointment occasionally, that is considered normal. Here are a few examples of normal memory loss:
- Forgetting a name and remembering it later in the day.
- Occasionally misplacing keys, wallets, or other small essentials, but still finding them.
- Taking longer to learn new subjects, or having trouble recalling just learned facts.
- Using lists more frequently to order and remember items to do or to buy.
What is Dementia?
When most people think of memory loss with age, they think of dementia. But what exactly does dementia mean? It is an umbrella term that is often used to describe a set of symptoms that usually occur later in life. Those symptoms include impairment of:
- Other related cognitive skills
Most often with dementia, the first observable sign is memory loss that impairs your functionality and ultimately the way you live your life. A few other early signs are:
- Asking the same questions repeatedly
- Forgetting more common words while speaking
- Wandering away or getting lost in a familiar setting
- Placing items in the wrong place, like putting your keys in the fridge often
- Having changes in behavior or mood for no apparent reason
What Is Alzheimer’s?
Just because you have memory issues does not always mean that you will have Alzheimer’s. The common signs of Alzheimer’s are ultimately the same as normal memory loss, but they are more frequent in occurence and usually more pronounced. This chart from the National Institute on Aging helps to illustrate that point. The first noticeable symptom in many Alzheimer’s cases is dementia. Other symptoms include:
- Declining Memory – Alzheimer’s destroys many parts of the memory, both short and long term memory are affected.
- Changes in Behavior – the patient often withdraws from the daily activities they used to engage in, and as the disease progresses they can become angry or prone to outbursts.
- Impaired Reasoning – the disease often transforms how a person thinks, not just what they remember. Often this manifests as impaired judgement and poor reasoning skills.
- Motor Dysfunctions – patients can sometimes lose their sense of touch, or even the use of their hands altogether.
If you misplace your keys once in a while, you’re probably just aging and a little bit forgetful. If you always lose your keys, wallet, and even your cane, then it may be time to talk to your doctor. If you need to write down appointments or lists for your shopping, that’s just a natural progression. If you forget to write down your appointments, and often miss them, that could be a sign you need to worry about your memory loss. You should talk to your doctor about any symptoms you are worried about.
Medical Reasons for Memory Loss
There are a number of reversible causes of memory loss, many of which are due to an imbalance in your natural processes. With some care from your doctor, you could be feeling back to yourself in no time. Some of these causes are:
- Alcohol or Drug Abuse – Long term, alcohol and/or drug abuse impairs the brain’s ability to function normally.
- Depression – Can skew memories and impair recall.
- Medications – Certain medicines, or combinations of medicines, can create confusion or temporary memory loss.
- Head Trauma – Any time you have a head trauma, there is a chance of memory loss that goes with it.
- Vitamin B12 Deficiency – It is common amongst older adults to have a B12 deficiency that affects many systems, including memory.
Are You Experiencing Memory Loss with Age?
You’re not alone! If you or your loved one’s memory loss has become an issue in your day to day living, it may be time to look into a care facility that helps memory loss patients in particular. There are many benefits of living in an environment designed to help you better engage in daily activities and continue to have a robust social life. Memory loss can be very isolating if left untreated, so talk to your doctor about the best treatment for your age related memory loss.
If you would like more information about our facilities at Landmark Memory Care, or want to check availability, please contact us today.
For a helpful list of things to look for in your memory care facility, see our previous blog post.