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A top fear of “Boomers” and older Americans is the fear of losing their mind, their memories, and becoming a burden. Connie Chow’s article helps us sort out our fears about ourselves, our loved ones and friends as forgetfulness raises its frightening head.

Signs of Alzheimer’s vs Normal Forgetfulness. Worried about your older adult?
Do you wonder if your parent or spouse’s forgetfulness or odd behavior is a normal part of aging or signs of Alzheimer’s? You’re not alone. Don’t panic yet. There are differences between the normal forgetfulness that comes with age and warning signs of cognitive issues.

Everyone forgets stuff
It turns out that everyone loses memory-making and cognitive abilities as they age. It’s normal. The decline starts by age 40 (that early!?) and picks up speed after that. Hmmm, that probably explains why you can never remember where you put your keys.

Normal aging vs signs of Alzheimer’s
So how do you know if the things you’re noticing in your senior are because of normal aging or if you need to get them checked out?

This comparison chart talks about 5 real-life situations and the key differences between normal aging behavior and possible signs of Alzheimer’s.

Normal Aging Signs of Alzheimer’s
Needing help once in a while with the TV remote or microwave oven settings. Trouble with familiar or daily tasks. Examples:1.    Getting lost driving to the local store.2.    Forgetting how to make their signature chicken dish.

3.    Not remembering the rules of a favorite game.

Making mistakes once in a while when balancing a checkbook or cooking a meal (Oops, forgot the paprika!). Difficulty planning or problem solving. Examples:1.    Trouble following a familiar recipe.2.    Not being able to keep track of monthly bills.
Being confused about the day of the week, but figuring it out later. Having trouble tracking dates, seasons, and the passage of time. Sometimes forgetting where they are or how they got there.
Once in a while has poor judgment and bad decisions like drinking too much at a big party or spending too much money on something frivolous. Frequently has bad judgment or decision-making. Examples:1.    Giving large amounts of money to telemarketers.2.    Buying tons and tons of stuff from online shopping channels.

3.    Paying less attention than normal to personal hygiene – wearing the same clothes, not bathing, etc.

Getting irritated when a habit or routine is disrupted. Noticeable changes in mood or personality. Examples:1.    Getting confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious.2.    Being easily upset at home, at work, with friends, or in places where they’re out of their comfort zone.

Bottom line
Quirky behavior and occasional “senior moments” probably aren’t things to worry about. Everyone loses cognitive function as they age – and none of us are getting any younger!

If you notice your older adult showing signs of Alzheimer’s or you’re worried about recent behavior changes, schedule a checkup with their doctor right away. Early detection and treatment could help your older adult stay independent longer and could help manage some symptoms.

Next Step > Learn about the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s at the Alzheimer’s Association

By Connie Chow, Contributing Writer and Founder of DailyCaring
Image: Urban Housecall

Linking Disclaimer: The Alzheimer’s Association is not responsible for information or advice provided by others, including information on websites that link to Association sites and on third party sites to which the Association links. Please direct any questions to weblink@alz.org.

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