Many people are concerned about becoming forgetful. This is especially so for older adults. They think that forgetfulness is the first sign of Alzheimer’s. However, not all people with memory issues have Alzheimer’s. There are other causes for memory problems such as aging, emotional problems, medical conditions, or mild cognitive impairment. Read on to learn more about whether your forgetfulness is a part of normal aging or signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Age-Related Memory Changes
Forgetfulness is a normal part of aging. As people become older, changes occur throughout the body including the brain. Some people notice that it takes longer for them to learn new things, or they lose things such as their glasses or they don’t remember information as well as before. These are signs of mild forgetfulness and not major memory problems such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are the signs of normal aging:
- Making a bad decision once in a while
- Forgetting which day it is and remembering later
- Missing a payment
- Losing things from time to time
- Sometimes forgetting which word to use
Here are some signs of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Making poor decisions most of the time
- Problems paying monthly bills
- Trouble having a conversation
- Losing track of the date or time of year
- Misplacing things often and not being able to find them
Memory Loss Related to Medical Conditions
Certain medical conditions can cause memory issues. These problems usually go away once the person receives treatment. Such medical conditions that cause memory problems include:
- Tumors, blood clots, or brain infections
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Head injury
- Some thyroid, liver, or kidney disorders
- Side effects of medication
- Not eating enough healthy foods, lacking vitamins and minerals
Memory Loss Related to Emotional Problems
Emotional problems such as anxiety, stress, or depression can make a person become more forgetful. This can be mistaken for dementia too. For example, someone who is coping with the death of a loved one or has recently retired may feel sad, lonely, bored, or worried. Dealing with these life changes leaves some people feeling confused or forgetful. This forgetfulness as a result of emotions is usually temporary and will go away when the feelings pass.
Emotional problems can be helped by talking it out with supportive family and friends. If these feelings last for more than two weeks, you need to seek help from a doctor or counselor. Treatment may include medication or counseling, or both. Keeping active and learning new skills will help an individual feel better and improve their memory as well.
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