When Memory Loss is More than Normal Aging


Sometimes I worry that I have Alzheimer’s Disease or another dementia. As soon as I have that thought, I quickly discount it and I can find a million reasons why it couldn’t be true. For starters, I’m not the family hypochondriac (we jokingly leave that title to my mother). And I’m way too young for Alzheimer’s, even early-onset, right? My kids become quite annoyed when I ask them the same question within a few minutes, but I have so many thoughts racing through my head, it’s hard to remember if I actually ASKED the question, or just thought about it. I reassure myself that I am just hyper-sensitive because I am so professionally immersed in Alzheimer’s with my job. I like to listen to the excuses. They make me feel better. But I’ve noticed so many signs that I’ve done a little research on my own to find out when the excuses need to stop and maybe I should pay more attention.

I’ve worked around aging long enough that I know not everyone or every organization understands the disease, so I started my research at the Alzheimer’s Association, a trustworthy source. Lucky for me, they have a great worksheet on their website at www.alz.org called the “Ten Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s.” This was super helpful because it also lists what is considered normal forgetfulness. The worksheet can also be printed and taken to a doctor for discussion about your own situation. So let’s take a look at some of the signs. Simply visit their website to learn more about the other ones.

MEMORY LOSS that disrupts daily life can be a common sign, especially early on. We all use wonderful post-it notes, but are you finding that you reply on lists or post-it notes more and more? Are you having trouble remembering recently learned information? I will be honest, I never forgot anything and barely used a calendar to manage our busy family of four. Lately I find myself using not only my phone as a reminder but also a family calendar to double-check myself. I feel paranoid I might miss something because a few things have slipped through the cracks over the last few months.

DIFFICULTY COMPLETING FAMILIAR TASKS AT HOME, AT WORK OR AT LEISURE. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, people with dementia find it difficult to complete daily tasks. Have you walked into one room and forgot why you went there? I pretty sure that has happened to everyone at least once, but what about other tasks such as following a recipe in the kitchen or remembering how to fold your fitted sheets? I get so confused about how to turn on the windshield wipers on in my car. Granted, I drive three different cars, but shouldn’t I be able to remember how each car works? Is it my “ditsy” personality shining through or could it be more?

Maybe I am just not listening to people as well as I once did; maybe I am distracted by my cell phone and the ten million things going on in my life; maybe I even have a vitamin deficiency or a touch of depression. Regardless, I am going to have an honest conversation with my doctor and continue monitoring the signs. Unfortunately, no excuse can prevent or cure Alzheimer’s Disease. The only thing that can truly make you feel better is an early diagnosis or exploring other medical issues that can explain your forgetfulness.

If you need additional help understanding the resources available, please feel free to reach out to the PA Link to Aging and Disability Resource Center for a listing of services available in your community. Please call our toll-free Call Center at 1-800-753-8827 or email me at mbottorf2016@gmail.com.

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