How do I know whether my occasional senior moments are signs of something more severe? Is my forgetfulness normal aging or Alzheimers?  Have you ever wondered about questions like this? If so, you are not alone. Experiencing changes in memory or other cognitive functions can be concerning. So, what is normal and what is not?

Normal Aging: Includes mild periodic forgetfulness like occasionally misplacing one’s car keys or forgetting to send a birthday card on time. Normal aging does not include worsening memory loss, disorientation, confusion, inability to conduct usual personal matters or an inability to care for oneself due to cognitive decline.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI): Mild Cognitive Impairment is a stage between normal aging and more serious problems like dementia caused by Alzheimer’s and other related conditions. Common symptoms of MCI are:

  •   forgetfulness
  •   repetitive questioning
  •   taking  longer to perform tasks
  •   having difficulty multitasking
  •   experiencing difficulty with problem-solving

In general, a decline in one or more cognitive areas compared to other people of your approximate age and education yet an ability to perform normal activities of daily living overall indicates MCI.

If one has symptoms that are more significant and occur in more than one area as well as impair one’s ability to function independently there is concern for a more significant diagnosis like dementia,  Alzheimer’s Disease or other neurological problem.

Dementia:Dementia is not a specific disease but a term for the collection of symptoms caused by a number of disorders affecting the brain.  People with dementia have significantly impaired intellectual functioning that interferes with normal activities and relationships. These include problems with:

•Emotional control
•Ability to solve problems
•Memory impairment or memory loss
•Language skills
•Cognitive skills like reasoning and judgment

Any of these symptoms alone does not indicate dementia but a combination of two or more is significant for considering dementia. 

If your senior moments are increasing and you are concerned about your cognitive abilities or those of someone your care about seek assistance from a trusted care provider to further evaluate the symptoms.