Practical Suggestions to Help Loved Ones Age in Place Safely
Practical Suggestions to Help Loved Ones Age in Place Safely

When to be Concerned About a Loved One’s Memory Lapse

Is it a normal memory lapse? Or a cause for concern?

We all do it sometimes… We forget where we left our keys, or forget an item on our grocery list. Or we run in to someone we’ve met several times but we just can’t seem to remember their name. So we try to cover ourselves by enthusiastically saying “hey, great to see you!” (taken straight from the “What’s That Name?” SNL gameshow bit).

Well as we mature we may notice it happens more than it used to. And according to Dr Sandra Timmerman, this is actually a part of normal brain aging. 

However, when it comes to aging loved ones we need to be especially cognizant of any lapses in memory that could be considered beyond the norm. So when it comes to forgetting things, what is normal? And what might be a cause for concern? Take a look at a few examples of each:

  • Missing a monthly payment occasionally, forgetting what day it is but remembering it later, or misplacing things and then finding them are typical of age-related changes in the brain and nothing to be worried about.
  • Losing things and being unable to find them, confusion with time, place, or season, difficulty having a conversation and inability to keep finances straight and manage money (part of IADL activities) are red flags.
  • If your brain is healthy and you misplace your car keys, when you find them, you know that you need them to start your car. People with dementia might lose the keys, put them in an inappropriate place like a refrigerator and then have no idea why they are there and what they are supposed to be used for.
  • Many of us may not have a perfect sense of direction, but people with early symptoms of Alzheimer’s get confused. They might not find familiar places like grocery stores and get lost trying to find the way home.
  • We may tell the same stories to friends once in a while, but those with the disease may repeat themselves over and over again in a short time span.

Of course, if our loved ones occasionally forget things, we don’t want to jump to conclusions and assume they have Alzheimer’s. On the other hand, we don’t want to make the mistake of assuming they are OK if their memory lapses increase sharply in frequency or severity.  These memory lapses could be early indicators of Mild Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer’s,or Dementia. If you’re concerned about a loved one’s memory loss, a visit to their primary doctor or a neurologist may be in order.   

Please don’t forget to read Doctor Timmermann’s full article here:

Hi, my name is Patrick Baker. This site is set up to provide suggestions and guidance for assisting senior citizens remain independent and at home for as long as possible. This can be accomplished through IADL care, which I've been researching in order to help my own grandmother remain independent and safe while aging in place. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.

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