Skip main navigation
Serving Salem and surrounding areas.
Type Size
Past main navigation Contact Us
Senior woman with gray white hair and glasses sitting in her armchair in her home and talking on the phone. Grandmother is happy to talk to her children and grandchildren.

The Difference Between Age-Related Memory loss and Alzheimer’s

As people age, they experience changes in their brains that can lead to memory loss. Although occasionally forgetting where you put your keys is often a typical part of aging, it can be unsettling to wonder if your loved one’s forgetfulness could be a sign of something serious. About 10 percent of people over the age of 65 suffer from Alzheimer's dementia, requiring them to have live-in home care or move into a memory care facility.

Not all seniors experience the same level of age-related memory loss, and not all memory loss is an indication of Alzheimer's. Dementia-related memory loss may also be associated with changes in mood or personality or withdrawal from social activities. If you notice that your loved one is growing more forgetful, here are some guidelines to help you determine what may be normal memory loss and what may require a visit to the doctor.

Forgetting Names or Words

This can happen to anyone! It's not unusual to get tripped up over a word or be temporarily unable to remember an acquaintance's name. However, if your loved one has trouble participating in a conversation, frequently repeats themself, or regularly makes up names for common objects, it may be a sign of Alzheimer's.

Trouble With Daily Tasks

In some cases, struggling to get dressed or work the coffee machine may be related to issues with balance or coordination rather than memory loss. It's also not unusual to forget how to do a task that they may not do very often. However, forgetting a part of a daily routine, such as how to get to work, may be cause for concern.

Losing Items

It's fairly normal for a senior to forget where they put their keys or if they brought their favorite coffee cup home from work. These occasional misplacements of objects are common in people of all ages, even if they may happen more frequently for older people. What's less typical is an inability to retrace one's steps to try to find the object. If your loved one can't find their glass of water and also can't remember that they were in the kitchen five minutes ago, it may be time to see a doctor about your concerns.

Making Poor Decisions

We all make mistakes in judgment from time to time. An occasional mistake isn't a big deal. It could be more serious if your senior isn't taking care of their health or hygiene or if they have become careless with money. For instance, donating a large sum of money to a charity they care about probably isn't as concerning as giving to telemarketers or an organization you've never heard of.

The aging process is different for everyone. The best way to track signs of memory loss and determine if they're a cause for concern is to really know your loved one. Be aware of what's "normal" for them in terms of habits, personality, mood, and routine. Make note of changes in behavior and remember when they started in case they become more frequent. Trust your gut if something doesn't seem quite right, and make an appointment with your loved one’s doctor.

When memory loss starts to interfere with daily life, they may need some help. Senior Helpers in Oregon offers live-in home care so your loved one can age in place, even with Alzheimer's or dementia. Our compassionate caregivers are trained to recognize the signs of Alzheimer's and can help you determine if your senior's lapses in memory are a sign of a problem. Contact us if you have any questions about live-in home care.