Memory Lapses: Differentiating Age-Linked Memory Loss from Alzheimer's Disease

Monday, 25 Nov 2013 08:13 PM

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Memory loss is an inevitable part of aging. There are some differences between age-linked memory loss and dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with Alzheimer’s suffer from dementia, which is a group of problems comprising memory loss, personality changes, and distorted cognitive thinking, among others. The following conditions are true of age-related memory loss and dementia in Alzheimer’s disease.

Disturbed daily life activities:
Memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease becomes severe with time. In Alzheimer’s disease dementia, the patient asks for information repetitively and is unable to recall even recent activities. They become dependent on others to complete even simple tasks. In age-linked memory loss, though the person may forget, they remember or recollect information later on automatically. Their daily activities are not affected.

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Not able to plan simple things: With age-linked memory loss, people occasionally experience problem in remembering dates for planning, but in case of Alzheimer’s disease, people find themselves unable to plan for the time ahead. They are confused, and cannot clearly gather information about time due to dementia.

Difficulty in solving problems: Forgetting simple numbers and dates is a big problem in Alzheimer’s disease. Such people are always confused about finding solutions for very simple problems like writing, reverse counting, adding, multiplying, etc. In age-linked memory loss, these problems are occasional.

Feeling confused about time and space:
Alzheimer’s patients lose judgment of time and space. They lose track of the season, time of the day or dates, and days. However, such memory loss in a normal aged person doesn't last for long. They recall such information sooner or later. Memory loss is so severe with Alzheimer’s that people may even lose their way while walking alone on familiar routes.

Poor judgment:
We all make poor decisions once in a while, but in Alzheimer’s disease, judgments get poorer. It's difficult for the patients to maintain hygiene, judge occasions, and behave accordingly.

Poor conversation: Not often does an aged person forget to get the right word in conversations. But an Alzheimer’s patient always loses control over conversation. It takes them longer to communicate even small things. Along with memory loss, they are often found to be repeating the same things.

Personality changes:
Growing old can make someone erratic occasionally. In age-linked memory loss, we seldom notice personality changes. Alternatively, we find personality changes in Alzheimer’s patients, apart from memory loss. They feel depressed, suspicious, angry, and uncomfortable with friends.

Being aware of dementia and age-linked memory loss enables early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and management.

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