Many aging individuals are concerned about their memory and other cognitive operations. They might be worried about learning new information more slowly or forgetting to pay a bill from time to time. There is, however, a distinction between typical forgetfulness and memory loss. Here’s what you need to know:
What is normal forgetfulness and what isn’t?
What is the difference between everyday forgetfulness and a serious memory problem? It’s natural to forget things from time to time as we get older, yet severe memory issues make it difficult to carry out basic functions like driving, using phones, and getting home.
Signs that it might be time to talk to a doctor include:
- Asking the same questions over and over again
- Getting lost in places a person knows well
- Having trouble following recipes or directions
- Becoming more confused about time, people, and places
- Not taking care of oneself —eating poorly, not bathing, or behaving unsafely
Mild cognitive impairment
Those that have a mild cognitive impairment or MCI are those who have memory or other reasoning issues than average people their age. People with MCI can generally care for themselves and do basic chores. Although not everyone with MCI develops Alzheimer’s disease, it is a potential sign.
Signs of MCI include:
- Losing things often
- Forgetting to go to important events or appointments
- Having more trouble coming up with desired words than other people of the same age
Dementia and aging
Dementia is not a normal part of aging. It describes the decline in cognitive function, including thinking, memory, learning, and reasoning to the point that it affects a person’s quality of life and daily activities. Although memory loss is typical, it isn’t the only indicator of dementia. People with dementia may have issues with language abilities, visual perception, or attention as well as memory deficits. People who have dementia commonly exhibit altered personalities.
When to visit the doctor for memory loss
If you, a family member, or a friend is having trouble recalling recent events or concentrating clearly, see your doctor. A complete examination may be recommended to determine what is causing the symptoms. You might also want to talk about research possibilities with your doctor.
The GMI Research Centers are currently enrolling subjects with Alzheimer’s Disease into research studies. We are seeking men and women between the ages of 50 – 85 who are diagnosed or believed to be suffering from Alzheimer’s related symptoms. If you think you might be eligible, you can fill out this form and learn more.