Forgetfulness v Dementia


Is this forgetfulness or dementia?

As we age, many of us have concerns about whether or not the changes in both our body and mind are normal aging or early signs of dementia. Many of the changes we experience are normal. So, what does “normal” look like?

Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As we age, changes occur throughout the body, including the brain. We may lose things, like our keys or glasses. It may take longer to learn new tasks; or, we may not remember things like we used to. These are typically signs of mild forgetfulness, not dementia.

The chart below is from the National Institute of Mental Health and outlines what some clear differences between normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease.

Normal Aging v. Alzheimer’s Disease

Normal aging falls in line with the following:

  • Making a bad decision once in a while
  • Missing a monthly payment
  • Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later
  • Sometimes forgetting which word to use
  • Losing things from time to time

Talk to your doctor if you have the following issues:

  • Making poor judgments and decisions a lot of the time
  • Problems taking care of monthly bills
  • Losing track of the date or time of year
  • Trouble having a conversation
  • Misplacing things often and being unable to find them

Why am I experiencing memory loss?

As we discussed above, some memory loss is simply what happens to us all as we grow older.

Some can be due to underlying medical conditions. A doctor should treat any of these serious medical conditions as soon as possible.

  • Blood clots or tumors in the brain
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Side effects of medication
  • Liver, thyroid, or kidney disorders
  • A recent fall that may have resulted in a head injury

Another reason for memory loss could be emotional. Sometimes, anxiety and depression can be mistaken for dementia. Dealing with the grief from the death of a spouse or close friends can cause us not to want to do the things we used to like to do. If we are becoming more isolative due to this depression, we may not want to shower, eat regular meals or engage in activities we used to like to do. When this happens, we may get confused and forgetful. These feelings may go away on their own, but if they last more than two weeks, please see your doctor.

What should I do if I think I have symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Talk to your doctor, or call Western Missouri Medical Center’s Bridges Senior Behavioral Health Unit. At Bridges, we help with therapy and medication during those times of depression or anxiety when you need more support. If you have additional concerns whether what you are experiencing is normal aging or possible dementia, please see your primary care physician.

To make your appointment at Bridges Senior Behavioral Health Unit, please call at (660) 262‐7590.

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About Western Missouri Medical Center

Western Missouri Medical Center (WMMC) is a fully-accredited acute care county medical center located in Warrensburg, MO. WMMC prides itself in emergency care, obstetrics, orthopedic and general surgery, family healthcare, internal medicine, outpatient clinics, ambulatory care, rehabilitation services and more. Inpatient services include medical, surgical, intensive, obstetrical, orthopedic, pediatric and skilled nursing care, as well as a wide range of therapeutic and diagnostic outpatient services. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Learn more at