AMAC In The Media / Health & Wellness / Opinion / Press Releases

When Is a Memory Lapse a Reason To Get Medical Attention?

memory lapse reason medical attentionWASHINGTON, DC – “Beyond a medical diagnosis of disease, the aches and pains of growing old can be worrisome.  But the growing numbers of patients who have actually been diagnosed with dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease, can cause concern among America’s aging population at large,” says Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens.

Most of the time, forgetfulness is just that: forgetfulness, as Weber describes it.  In fact, neuroscientist and author Daniel J. Levitin points out that we’ve got a lot more to think about with each passing year.

Levitin puts it this way: “older adults have to search through more memories than do younger adults to find the fact or piece of information they’re looking for. Your brain becomes crowded with memories and information. It’s not that you can’t remember — you can — it’s just that there is so much more information to sort through. A 2014 study found that this ‘crowdedness’ effect also shows up in computer simulations of human memory systems.”

The German physician Alois Alzheimer was the first scientist to describe the disease that bears his name in 1906.  But it wasn’t until the ‘70s and ‘80s that Alzheimer’s began to be recognized as something of a scourge.

“Indeed,” says Weber, “Nearly six million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease and, as the Alzheimer’s Association predicts, that number is poised rise to some 14 million over the next three decades.”

The question is, when is a lapse of memory just part of life and when is it a sign of the impending onset of Alzheimer’s Disease?  According to the National Institute on Aging, “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.”

But the Alzheimer’s Association says that if your forgetfulness is disrupting your life, it may be time to see a doctor.  In an online paper entitled, 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s, the association describes the differences between forgetfulness and disease.

The paper explains that age-related lapses include:

  • Making occasional errors when managing finances or household bills
  • Sometimes forgetting names or appointments but remembering them later
  • Occasionally needing help to use microwave settings or to record a TV show
  • Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later
  • Sometimes having trouble finding the right word
  • Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them
  • Making a bad decision or mistake once in a while, like neglecting to change the oil in the car
  • Sometimes feeling uninterested in family or social obligations
  • Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted

The Alzheimer’s paper suggests that signs of the disease as we grow older include:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality


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Scott Davis
2 years ago

Names of people and things are troublesome at times. I tried to make light of it, but those who are around me noticed I’m doing it more often, and make light of it. For someone who has several degrees from upper level education, and prided myself in the ability to recall resources for various purposes, it’s so frustrating when it happens. God knows. I’ll keep telling Him until I can’t anymore.
Enjoy your retirement plan the best way you can. Love and be loved. Success in some circles demand more than that. I never will.

Gail P.
2 years ago

First of all, don’t panic! What a relief it is when later in the day, or even sometimes the next day, I remember the name of something that I couldn’t remember before. I do, of course, panic just a little, sometimes. But when I catch myself IN my panic mode, I recall that most often, I will eventually remember stuff. Then, to me, I have to laugh to myself for once again falling for all of the “age hype” that every time I forget something……well, it just must be that inevitable age thing. Don’t you believe it. I usually end up having some fun with it and my OMG, this is it! attitude. Not necessarily. Resist and see the humor in it…or, at least try to.

John Karkalis
2 years ago
Reply to  Gail P.

A good healthy outlook, Gail .
I worry sometimes, too.
So far I haven’t put my keys in the fridge and I haven’t begun to drool over myself, so I guess I’m okay.

Deb bab
2 years ago

This was very helpful

John Karkalis
2 years ago

1. Stay active.
2. Maintain Social contacts.
3. Read AMAC articles and AMAC magazine.
4. Interact with AMAC members.
5. Vote TRUMP in 2020.
See how easy it is to avoid cognitive decline?

.Jim A.
2 years ago
Reply to  John Karkalis

The ole lady says I don’t have Alzheimers, I just have some of the timers

Barbara Speer
2 years ago

Love it – a real way to get a handle on is it normal or serious/dementia.

.Jim A.
2 years ago
Reply to  Barbara Speer

I don’t know how to do “normal.”

The Freezing Senior
2 years ago

Sounds like the affliction of Creepy Joe and his gang of buffoons have

GBA/KAG #TRUMP2020 – Deus Vult !

2 years ago

He s got a great memory….just like schifty schiff, EXCEPT when in comes to criminality related to themselves or their family…or the whistleblower, Eric Ciarmelli….

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