Losing your memory can be incredibly hard to deal with. As we get older, memory decline comes with the territory. It becomes more difficult to remember names, phone numbers, find your keys and focus in general. Some memory problems are bound to happen. The good news is that normal age related memory problems can be treated by keeping your mind active.

It can be hard to ask for help if you are suffering from memory loss, but it is necessary. But how can we tell when memory problems are beyond what is considered normal? When are memory problems a symptom of something more serious? Knowing the difference between normal memory loss and signs of serious conditions like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is important.

Normal Memory Problems or Something More Serious?

Normal memory problems and dementia share similar characteristics, but they are entirely different. To tell the difference between dementia and less serious memory loss, we need to pay attention to a few things. Some common memory problems that are considered a normal part of the aging process include:

  • You are worried that you will lose your memory.
  • You don’t remember the date and you need to check the calendar.
  • You forget to pay bills every once in a while.
  • You can’t remember the name of your doctor.
  • You get lost when driving in a new place.
  • You forget to put things away on occasion.
  • You have trouble finding the right word, but then are able to find it.
  • You lose your wallet, keys or other small items but can usually find them when you retrace your steps.
  • You get up to do something and forget for a moment.

If you are having the type of problems described above, there are things you can do to remedy them. A few things that are known to promote good memory are regular exercise, a healthy diet, not smoking, social interaction and good sleep hygiene. All of these things are good ways to improve and maintain your memory. Staying physically and mentally active in your later years will have a significant effect on your memory. Learning new things, taking up new hobbies are great ways to enhance your memory at any age.

Signs of Serious Conditions Associated With Memory

There are some indicators that memory loss is a symptom of a serious condition like Alzheimer’s disease. Only a licensed medical professional can diagnose you with dementia. If you notice any of the following signs, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. You can take comprehensive tests designed to diagnose specific memory related conditions.

  • Getting lost when driving in a familiar neighborhood.
  • You have trouble answering questions and/or keeping up with the normal flow of conversation.
  • You often put things in place they don’t belong, like linens in the kitchen cabinet.
  • You can’t remember what season it is or have trouble remember what decade you are in.
  • You misplace things and aren’t able to find them.
  • You leave the room to do something and completely forget why you got up in the first place.
  • You leave the fridge open, the front door wide open or let strangers into your house.
  • You can no longer manage your bank account or pay bills.

If you or someone you know is experiencing the types of memory problems described above, there may be a more serious underlying condition responsible. It’s important to see a doctor who can help you determine whether it is due to dementia.