How do I know if my memory loss is Alzheimer’s?

by: Brenda Lyle

  • We often forget things like car keys, the name of our second cousin and even why we’re looking in the refrigerator.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “almost 40% of people over the age of 65 show some sort of memory loss.”  So how do we know what’s normal and what isn’t?

    As we age, the brain changes physically and chemically — but not in a predictable pattern.  You may find 85-year-olds with no memory loss or 62-year-olds with significant memory loss.  The onset and rate of memory decline is often one of the first indicators of memory loss that is NOT normal. 

    To find out for sure, visit your primary care physician. If an underlying medical cause is ruled out, the next step is a memory screening.  The goal is to get a baseline score, so that the professional can make an appropriate referral.  An MRI may be recommended to look for any significant changes in the brain.  Additional scans may be required to get a memory impairment diagnosis. 

    Dementia is the “umbrella” term for loss of memory and other thinking abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.  Many other diseases may also cause memory loss, but Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases.  Its distinct warning signs, such as the inability to retain newly learned information, warrant a visit to your physician.  Although there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s, medications and therapies may help slow the progression of the disease. 

    The signs of memory loss in yourself or your loved ones can be frightening, but help is just a phone call away.  One Senior Place can connect you for free with the local resources and agencies you need for assistance with memory related concerns. Pick up a copy of the free Memory Resource Guide or schedule a free memory screening by calling 321.751.6771 or visiting OneSeniorPlace.com. 

    One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families.  Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home