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Age-Related Memory Loss vs. Alzheimer’s Disease

Senior man concerned his memory loss may be a sign of Alzheimer’s diseaseWe all have moment of forgetfulness. We blank on the name of a neighbor we spent time with growing up. We forget something we needed at the grocery store. Or we misplace our keys. These moments of forgetfulness often become more common as we age.

To a certain degree, memory loss is a normal part of aging, as the brain naturally begins to take longer to process information. However, these “senior moments” of forgetfulness are often minor and don’t interfere with your everyday life.

Normal Signs of Age-Related Memory Loss

As previously mentioned, our ability to recall information declines as we age. Additionally, hormones and proteins that help to generate new brain cells also decreases with age. As does the blood flow to brain, which can greatly impact cognitive abilities. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for seniors to cite moments of forgetfulness.

These occasional lapses generally aren’t something to be concerned about and usually are not a sign of a more serious condition. Signs of age-related memory loss include things like…

  • Occasionally misplacing everyday items such as glasses, car keys, the remote, etc.
  • Being easily distracted while reading or engaging in conversation
  • Missing an appointment that was scheduled weeks in advance
  • Mixing up family members’ names or calling an acquaintance by the wrong name

Common Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Unfortunately, not all forgetfulness is age-related and may be a sign of a more serious condition. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.7 million Americans are living with dementia. And one in ten of those living with Alzheimer’s is over the age of 65.

Unlike the brain changes associated with age-related memory loss, Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease in which brain cells, nerve cells and nerve connections progressively die over time. And while there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are a number of treatments and therapies that may slow the progression. However, these are often most effective in those diagnosed in the earliest stages of the disorder, making the recognition of early symptoms extremely important.

Many of the early signs of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Difficulty solving problems and working with numbers. Many in the early stages of Alzheimer’s have trouble managing monthly bills.
  • Issues with everyday tasks such as driving. Tasks which were once second nature often begin to feel difficult to complete.
  • Confusion about time or location, for example, it’s not uncommon for someone in the early stage of Alzheimer’s to be in a grocery store and suddenly not understand where they are and why they are there.
  • Poor judgment-making, with even simple things such as wearing a coat on a cold winter day.
  • Distinct changes in personality, including increased aggression, anxiety, depression or paranoia.

If you see any of these signs in a loved one or yourself, it’s important to speak with your doctor about your concerns.

Memory Care Support at Franciscan Ministries

At Franciscan Ministries, our memory care communities provide specialized support to seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We work to help seniors continue their unique life story and strive to help them make new memories each and every day. And our 24-hour care services ensure seniors have access to the care and assistance they need in a safe, supportive environment. If your loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, contact Franciscan Ministries today to learn more about our individualized memory care services.

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