Aging and Memory Loss – When to Be Concerned

Aging and Memory Loss – When to Be Concerned

As we age, memory loss is a concern.  Some people are forgetful for much of their lives.  They blank on people’s names, misplace glasses or keys, lock themselves out of their house or car, forget where they stored items, finding the right words, etc.  We don’t worry about these signs until our loved-ones or we experience them more often.  We wonder if this is part of the normal aging process or of serious mental deterioration.  Fortunately, for most people, occasional lapses in memory are a normal part of the aging process.


According to the Alzheimer’s Association, only 14% of people 71+ have Dementia, and 11% of people 65+ and 32% of people 85+ have Alzheimer’s.


Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) include:

  • Frequently losing or misplacing things
  • Frequently forgetting conversation, appointments, or events
  • Difficulty remembering the names of new acquaintances
  • Difficulty following the flow of a conversation


The key words here are “frequently” and “difficulty.”  And, MCI does not necessarily mean someone is experiencing a degenerative order such as Dementia.


If you are concerned about memory loss becoming frequent or noticeable enough to warrant attention, make an appointment with your primary physician for a complete physical.  Your physician will ask questions including:

  • How long have you, your family, and friends noticed the problem?
  • When did it start? Was it gradual or suddenly?
  • What kinds of things have been difficult to remember?
  • Does the person (you or loved-one) have trouble doing common tasks?
  • How often is it happening?
  • When is happens how severe is it?
  • How long does it last? Does it come and go?


The doctor will want a list of the medications taken, and will ask about eating and sleeping issues, depression or abnormal stress and ability to perform ADLs such as bathing, toileting, dressing, eating, walking and IADLs such as paying bills, housekeeping, driving, shopping, preparing meals, managing medications.


To give you an indication of your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, there is a quick test, by BMC Geriatrics that measures mild cognitive impairment and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  You can access this test via this link.