I Am Forgetting Things, Do I have Alzheimer’s?

Many people worry about becoming forgetful. They think forgetfulness is the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease. But not all people with memory problems have Alzheimer’s.

Other causes for memory problems can include aging, medical conditions, emotional problems, mild cognitive impairment, or another type of dementia.

Age-Related Memory Changes

Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they don’t remember information as well as they did, or they lose things like their glasses. These usually are signs of mild forgetfulness, not serious memory problems, like Alzheimer’s disease.

Differences Between Normal Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease

Normal Aging

Alzheimer’s Disease

Making a bad decision once in a while

Making poor judgments and decisions a lot of the time

Missing a monthly payment

Problems taking care of monthly bills

Forgetting which day it is and remembering it later

Losing track of the date or time of year

Sometimes forgetting which word to use

Trouble having a conversation

Losing things from time to time

Misplacing things often and being unable to find them

Memory Loss Related to Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can cause serious memory problems. These problems should go away once a person gets treatment. Medical conditions that may cause memory problems include:

  • Tumors, blood clots, or infections in the brain
  • Some thyroid, kidney, or liver disorders
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Head injury, such as a concussion from a fall or accident
  • Medication side effects
  • Not eating enough healthy foods, or too few vitamins and minerals in a person’s body (like vitamin B12)

A doctor should treat serious medical conditions like these as soon as possible.