Forgetfulness? It happened again. You were ready to head out to the supermarket but you couldn’t find your keys anywhere! Eventually, you found them on your bedside table. How did they get there?
When you reached the checkout line, you forgot the name of the sales clerk even though you have seen the man before! Why can’t you remember his name?
Episodes of forgetfulness are frustrating and make us feel foolish. In our senior years, we also have the nagging thought in the back of our minds: Does this forgetfulness mean that I am getting Alzheimer’s?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with everyday life.”
How can you know whether your forgetfulness is a sign of Alzheimer’s or just the result of aging?
Forgetting to pay your bill.
Missing one monthly payment is not a cause for alarm. That can happen to anyone at any age. But if you are forgetting to pay your bills month after month even after instituting a reminder or organization system, you may want to mention that to your doctor.
Having trouble recalling memories.
This is normal. Just like when you have a lot stored in your closet and it takes a while to dig something out, if you are in your golden years, you have a lot stored in your memory! Give yourself grace if it takes you a couple of minutes to retrieve a memory. There is more cause for concern if you are constantly forgetting things that happened recently.
This is normal, too, especially if you are able to recall the name after hearing some context clues. Be patient with yourself. You have met a lot of people in your lifetime! It would be unreasonable to expect you to remember everyone’s name.
Losing things or misplacing things.
Ever set down your glasses and totally forget where you put them? Or maybe you forgot where you left your purse and you had to spend a long time hunting for it? If this happens once in a while, there is no cause for concern.
Forgetting what day it is.
This happens to the sharpest of us especially when all of our days have a similar routine or when our week has had a special day in it that threw us off our normal schedule. But if Christmas was six weeks ago and you start asking your family when everyone is coming over to open gifts that could be a problem. Losing track of days of the week is fine. Losing track of seasons or recent years should be mentioned to your doctor.
Two more thoughts…
There are many possible causes of forgetfulness.
If you are tired, taking medication, or going through a particularly stressful time, your memory will not be its sharpest. Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes especially under these circumstances.
According to Alzheimer’s Association, the most common early sign of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information. This extends beyond the normal misplacing objects or forgetting to check the mail.
If you have a family member with Alzheimer’s, put a plan in place for the care of your loved one.
As people continue down their journey with Alzheimer’s, their day-to-day activities will become difficult for them to do. Give your senior loved one the gift of “home” by enlisting the help of a loving, kind, and qualified homecare giver. Contact Community Care of the Northeast today.
Editor’s Note: This is an updated version from a post that originally ran in 2017.