The Alzheimer’s Society have shared four questions you should ask to determine whether or not memory loss is “age-associated memory impairment” or dementia. One of the first things you should ask is if any memory issues are “noticeably disrupting your daily life” – are they? Then you need to ask whether any memory issues are affecting “your ability to complete tasks as you usually would”.
The third question is if you have “no difficulty learning and remembering new things”.
And if there’s “no underlying medical condition that is causing your memory problems”.
If you are experiencing difficulties with memory, but it is not disrupting your daily life, including your ability to complete tasks, and you can learn new things, you are likely to have age-associated memory impairment.
“Age-associated memory impairment is considered to be a normal part of ageing. It doesn’t mean you have dementia,” said the Alzheimer’s Society.
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Forgetting where you left your keys, a password for a website, or the name of a former classmate, are “not signs of dementia”.
“You may not remember things as quickly as you used to, but most of the time there is no cause for concern,” added the organisation.
A step on from age-associated memory impairment is mild cognitive impairment.
Signs of mild cognitive impairment may include mild memory loss and difficulty speaking and disorientation.
However, the key is that they “are not so severe that they interfere with your normal daily functions and routines”.
People with mild cognitive impairment do, however, have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.
Dementia, most noticeably, is when “your memory loss is severe” to the point where:
- It’s affecting your daily life and ability to stick to your normal routine
- You’re finding it difficult to learn new things
- You’re finding it difficult to complete tasks you’re familiar with
- Others close to you are also starting to notice changes in your abilities.
However, the Alzheimer’s Society said: “Then the only way to know for sure if you have dementia is to talk to your doctor and get tested.”
The NHS added that “it’s normal for your memory to be affected by stress, tiredness, certain illnesses and medicines”.
“Dementia is not only about memory loss. It can also affect the way you speak, think, feel and behave,” the health body added.
“It’s also important to remember that dementia is not a natural part of ageing.”
If you are in any way worried about your memory lapses, especially if you are over the age of 65, do book a doctor’s appointment.