Know the difference between memory lapses and Alzheimer’s

Approximately 1,000 Canadian baby boomers turn 65 each day, and as the senior population swells, so do the concerns surrounding Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, a recent study from the MetLife Foundation found that adults 55 and older are most concerned with developing Alzheimer’s, even more than cancer. It’s this level of concern that leads to many seniors wondering whether they are experiencing the earliest signs of dementia or simply a normal lapse in memory. It can be hard to know the difference, but there are a few things to take into consideration before raising the alarm.

Don’t fret over forgetfulness
Momentary memory lapses, such as forgetting someone’s name or walking into a room only to not remember what you were heading in there for, should not be considered early signs of dementia, The Huffington Post notes. Recent research has found that this form of memory loss, which is typically associated with age, is caused by the malfunctioning of certain genes rather than the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our study provides compelling evidence that age-related memory loss is a syndrome in its own right, apart from Alzheimer’s.” said Dr. Scott Small, the study’s lead author.

Repetition should raise concern
Although forgetfulness about minute details might not be indicative of Alzheimer’s, if seniors find themselves repeating themselves over and over for no reason, it could be a sign of substantial problem, according to The Huffington Post. In a similar vein, older adults who make frequent or repeated financial mistakes may be experiencing early signs of Alzheimer’s.

Is it mild cognitive impairment?
One of the issues that muddles the difference between memory lapses and Alzheimer’s disease is mild cognitive impairment. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, MCI is a condition that causes cognitive issues that are significant enough to be recognized by both the person experiencing them and others, but not so substantial that it interferes with their everyday life.

Distinguishing between MCI and Alzheimer’s can be different, especially since approximately 10 to 20 percent of those 65 and older may have MCI. For instance, MCI often manifests itself in the form of experiencing difficulty solving complex problems or performing multiple tasks at the same time. However, dementia and Alzheimer’s is typified by language problems and changes in behavior, according to the Mayo Clinic.