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Alzheimer & Dementia Care

Memory Loss vs Alzheimer’s

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Not every memory loss episode indicates an impending diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. The decline in a person’s mental and physical abilities is a normal consequence of aging. As we grow old, we are bound to face difficulty being as athletic as we were when we were young. It is okay to not be able to run the same lap as we used to before. Aging takes a toll on the entire body and also, the brain. Hence, a certain level of memory loss may be expected in old age.

There are differences in memory loss that happen as a result of aging and the memory loss that is an outcome of Alzheimer’s.

  • Forgetting about events or conversations occasionally that happened months ago may be normal but forgetting conversations or events that happened merely a few minutes ago may indicate Alzheimer’s or dementia in a person.
  • Being unable to remember the names of people you have met only a few times is just indicative of an aging brain; however, not being able to remember the faces or names of your immediate family members or closed ones is a consequence of Alzheimer’s.
  • It is normal to seldom forget the date and time in old age. Alzheimer’s, however, makes a person lose the sense of differentiating between the day and the night. They may have difficulty remembering the date or the time of the day.
  • Misplacing things a few times is okay but frequently keeping things and forgetting where you kept them is a symptom of Alzheimer’s. Patients may show severe signs of forgetfulness and may need to keep tags of where they might find their things. Alzheimer’s hinders the daily functioning by making the patients forget where they might find the things needed.
  • Making a wrong judgment once in a while is okay, however, Alzheimer’s disease makes a person lose their cognitive skills which affect their ability to comprehend and process information making decision making difficult.
  • Memory loss may make an Alzheimer’s patients have difficulty initiating and maintaining a conversation. Forgetting words or sentences they just uttered, and at times, patients may find it hard to engage in a long dialogue. On the other hand, forgetting words randomly may just be a sign of memory loss due to aging.

Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is a decline in a person’s ability to remember, comprehend and process information. It is a disease that gradually eats upon a person’s brain cells slowly deteriorating a person’s ability to function independently. Alzheimer’s, apart from memory loss, has several other symptoms as well:

  1. Sleep disruptions: Having trouble sleeping may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. Patients with Alzheimer’s are known to show signs of disturbed sleeping patterns early on in the disease. However, disturbed sleep in and of itself is not enough to indicate an impending diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
  2. Mood or personality shifts: Toning down of one’s personality as they age is normal. A person changes as they grow old but abrupt and major changes in a person’s personality may be an indication of Alzheimer’s disease. People who are known to be outgoing may show signs of social withdrawal or people who are otherwise calm and composed may start getting frustrated or agitated easily. Losing interest in hobbies that the person once enjoyed may also be a sign of a major personality change.
  3. Disorientation: Frequently forgetting basic things such as getting lost on your street or losing track of where you are going while driving are all symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
  4. Trouble completing daily chores: People with Alzheimer’s may start showing signs of trouble in carrying out daily tasks. Failure to comprehend and remember details and information, patients with Alzheimer’s may find it hard to carry out daily tasks without assistance. They may forget basic things such as not switching on the stove for cooking or leaving the door open while going out. The frequency of such events is high to indicate dementia.
  5. Difficulty communicating: Another sign of Alzheimer’s is that the patients may have problems with communication. They may forget the words and names of objects. They may have difficulty in finding the appropriate words to express themselves. The patient’s ability to read and write may also start getting affected.
  6. Depression: One of the other symptoms that often results because of Alzheimer’s disease is depression which may cause a lack of interest in activities, withdrawal, anxiety, etc.

These symptoms occurring collectively may indicate a risk of Alzheimer’s being diagnosed. Memory loss alone is not the only indicator of Alzheimer’s. Memory loss can also be the symptom of a few other underlying issues as well such as:

  • Medications: Certain intake of medications sometimes can cause confusion and haziness in a person.
  • Emotional disorders: Anxiety or depression may also be the cause behind forgetfulness and confusion. Chronic stress can affect mental stability and may result in memory problems.
  • Head injury or trauma: Head injury even if not fatal may affect a person’s ability to retain information.
  • Intoxication: Alcohol if taken frequently and in high quantities can slowly impair a person’s mental abilities.
  • Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid gland can affect a person’s thinking capacity and cause memory problems. Some kidney or liver problems may also affect a person’s memory.
  • Deficiency of Vitamin B-12: Vitamin B12 is vital for healthy brain nerves and cells. A vitamin b12 deficiency is known to cause memory problems in patients.
  • Other brain diseases: Memory loss is not just associated with Alzheimer’s. Other diseases might have memory loss as a symptom such as tumors, brain infections, etc.

Even though memory loss does happen as a result of Alzheimer’s disease, many other symptoms need to be judged before one can assume they might have the disease. Memory loss alone is not an indication of dementia. It may just be the slowing down of a person’s physical and mental abilities as they age. This also implies that one must not ignore the signs and a thorough check-up is always necessary to ward off any chances that the memory loss may be due to a disease and not just normal aging.

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