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How to Know if Your Forgetfulness is Alzheimer's-Related Memory Loss

Not all memory loss is Alzheimer's-related; it can also be part of normal aging.


  • Step 1: Watch for signs of withdrawal from work or social activities. It's normal to occasionally feel weary of family, work or social obligations, but giving up on social activity all together is more serious.
  • Step 2: Look for drastic changes in mood or personality. An upbeat person may seem depressed. A normally reserved person may seem angered. Make sure to see a doctor if and memory loss symptoms seem more extreme than those related to simply getting older.
  • FACT: Alzheimer's disease was first described in 1906 by the German physician Alois Alzheimer.
  • Step 3: Note whether you tend to lose things or put them in unusual places. As you age, you may occasionally misplace your glasses, but if you have lost several pairs in a row, that is more worrisome.
  • Step 4: Look for difficulties in participating in conversations. With normal aging, you may sometimes struggle to find the right word, but with Alzheimer's, you may be completely unable to follow a conversation, even though you can hear it.
  • TIP: In contrast to Alzheimer's-related memory loss, with normal aging you may become confused about the day of the week, but figure it out later.
  • Step 5: Be on the alert for difficulties completing familiar tasks at home or at work. With normal aging, you may occasionally need help with tasks such as programming a microwave. With Alzheimer's disease, the problem is more persistent.
  • Step 6: Be alert to difficulties in understanding visual images or spatial relationships. With normal aging, you may suffer visual changes due to cataracts. With Alzheimer's the problem is more cognitive.
  • Step 7: Watch for confusion about dates, time of the year, or the passage of time.

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