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A senior couple reads the newspaper together.
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At The Garden Plaza Of Florissant

When Is It Alzheimer's Symptoms vs. Normal Memory Loss?

A senior woman and her daughter look at a photo album.

When Is It Alzheimer's Symptoms vs. Normal Memory Loss?

May 25th, 2021

If you’ve become worried about your loved one’s recent forgetfulness, you’re not alone. It’s perfectly normal for adult children of seniors to be concerned about changes in their parent’s behavior. Needing additional reminders like alarms on their phones for medication or sticky notes for appointments is something that comes with age, but some moments of forgetfulness can be a sign of something more serious.

What’s Considered Normal Memory Loss in Seniors?

While some memory loss comes with aging, developing Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of growing older. Alzheimer’s-related memory loss interferes much more with daily living, to the point where your loved one may have difficulty with regular tasks and activities. When your parent is just experiencing normal memory loss with age, however, they’ll eventually remember what it is they forgot.

The ability to recall information typically declines with age as well. Hormones and proteins that aid in the growth of new brain cells decrease as one gets older, greatly impacting cognitive abilities. So it’s completely normal for seniors to experience moments of forgetfulness due to these changes. They may also have memory loss from:

  • Medical Conditions. Health issues such as blood clots or kidney, thyroid and liver disorders can affect memory and cognitive abilities.
  • Medication Side Effects. It’s not uncommon for an older individual to take multiple medications — both prescribed and over-the-counter. If this applies to your loved one, familiarize yourself with the potential side effects of their medications, as many can cause problems with memory. If you notice they’re struggling to remember things while on these medicines, speak with their doctor.
  • Emotional or Physical Problems. If your loved one is feeling particularly stressed or anxious, they may become more forgetful than they used to be. If they’ve been diagnosed with depression, they can also experience issues with memory that can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease. And if they’ve been struggling to fall or stay asleep, it can lead to fogginess over the short term.

You may notice your loved misplacing things like their keys or reading glasses, or they may get distracted while telling a story and need to start over — all of which are normal consequences of memory loss and aging. These occasional lapses of memory are typically nothing to be concerned over.

Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

Unfortunately, not all forgetfulness can be chalked up to aging. The early stages of Alzheimer’s can be disguised as general memory loss, and it can be difficult to diagnose because of the similarities. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer's. And lamentably, there is still no cure for this disease.

Alzheizer’s disease is a neurological disorder in which brain cells, nerve cells and nerve connections increasingly diminish. The damage Alzheimer’s causes is more severe than age-related memory loss and affects a larger portion of the brain. This leads to the disruption of a person’s daily life. If you’re concerned for your loved one’s well-being, look for these common signs of Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Forgetting or confusing the words for common objects.
  • Getting lost or disoriented in familiar places.
  • Trouble carrying out everyday tasks such as putting on clothes or balancing their checkbook.
  • Forgetting how to do activities they enjoy.
  • Removing themselves from social engagements with family and friends.
  • Displaying unusually poor judgment or falling for a scam that targets seniors.
  • Forgetting a loved one’s name whom they see regularly and only recalling it with help.
  • Difficulty recalling recent information.

Alzheimer’s disease will eventually affect your loved one’s relationships and daily life. While normal memory loss can be irritating and frustrating, Alzheimer’s is a debilitating cognitive decline. If you see that your loved one is experiencing any of these signs of Alzheimer’s, be sure to speak with them and their doctor right away.

Experience Person-Centered Care at Garden Plaza of Florissant

At Garden Plaza of Florissant, we offer a welcoming and secure memory care community if your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Every day is filled with purposeful programming adapted to their specific background and skills as well as meaningful connections with their loved ones and other residents.

To learn more about a thriving life in our memory care community, contact us today.


(This article serves for educational purposes only. If you have questions about Alzheimer’s or other dementias, please consult with a qualified physician.)