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Memory Loss or Normal Signs of Aging

Memory Loss or Normal Signs of Aging

We all forget things in the midst of a busy life: where we left our cell phone, what day to pick up the dry cleaning, or when the gas bill is due. But memory loss can also be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

As an adult child or family caregiver, how can you tell if senior your loved one’s memory problems are typical signs of aging or something more serious? 

The dementia experts at Five Star Senior Living offer this advice to caregivers.

When Forgetfulness Might Be Something More Serious

  1. Recall: When your senior loved one forgets an appointment or a name or where they left one of their belongings, can they recall it later or is the information gone for good? What type of information are they forgetting? Is it newly learned information or old familiar things, too? With Alzheimer’s disease, information that is forgotten is usually is gone for good and short-term memory is often lost first. 
  2. Forgetting how: An important distinction when trying to determine if forgetfulness is due to a busy life or something else is to understand if the senior is forgetting to do things or forgetting how to do them. If, for example, an older aunt who has always managed her finances well just had her lights turned off, find out the reason why. Is it money problems? Or is she having trouble with the abstract thought process required to complete a multi-step task like opening the bill when it arrives, writing out a check, putting a stamp on it, and taking it to the post office? The latter can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Getting lost: Forgetting how to get to a familiar destination is another troubling sign. If your father has gone to the same gas station to purchase his newspaper every Sunday for years, but suddenly has trouble finding it, there is probably cause for concern. Getting lost in familiar environments is a red flag for dementia.
  4. Following direction: Is your senior loved one having trouble with short-term memory that even verbal cues can’t help with? For example, let’s say you call and remind them when it’s time to take their medication. When you follow-up with your loved one later to make sure they did, the senior doesn’t remember talking to you earlier in the day or if they took their medication. That is not a typical sign of aging.

Schedule a Tour to Learn About Memory Care

When a senior’s quality of life is impacted by Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia, a memory care program can be the solution. We use proven Montessori techniques to help improve quality of life for adults with dementia. At Five Star Senior Living we call our memory care program the Bridge to Rediscovery. Please call to schedule a private tour to learn more. 

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