Most of us sometimes forget where we put our cell phone or our keys, or something we buy at the store. Forgetting from time to time is normal and there are many causes for temporary memory loss – lack of sleep and stress are two. But what’s the difference between normal forgetfulness and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common dementia?
1. Our memory capacity varies
Is it new for a person to forget certain things? If a person has had trouble keeping track of dates and times throughout their life, it doesn’t have to be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease if you miss a booked meeting or birthday. The memory capacity of individuals varies in different regions.
2. It is difficult to remember both the name and the person
Forgetting people’s names is normal and the name usually comes to mind at the end. But if we forget not only the name, but the whole person – this can be a symptom.
Patches no longer help
For many, memory deteriorates a bit with age, but it usually works with reminders such as memory cards. But over time, people with Alzheimer’s find it difficult to work with notebooks, calendars, notes, and even verbal reminders.
4. Finding things becomes more difficult
If we haven’t found the mobile phone, keys or wallet, we know where to start looking. People with Alzheimer’s have trouble remembering the last place they had their cell phone or wallet.
5. The perception of the room is affected
Waking up in a new place can be baffling for a short time, even for a healthy person. But people with Alzheimer’s have a hard time putting the clues together to figure out where they are and how they got there.
6. The local mind is affected
Anyone can get lost in new places, but a healthy person solves the situation. A person with Alzheimer’s can get lost in known places, for example, find it difficult to find a home from the store.
7. Forgetting more details
It’s normal to forget parts of an event, for example that salmon was served when friends were invited to dinner. But a person with Alzheimer’s often forgets the whole event and doesn’t remember dinner with friends at all.
8. Repeat questions
Telling your favorite stories multiple times to your friends can be upsetting, but it doesn’t have to be a sign of illness. Instead, the person with Alzheimer’s asks the same questions over and over, even to the same person during the same conversation.
9. Short-term memory failure
For most people, remembering events from a long time ago seems more difficult than remembering what happened recently. People with Alzheimer’s disease often forget and agree on what just happened.
Source: Anne Bonley, curator at the Memorial Clinic at Skåne University Hospital and Signe Andrén, researcher and retired nurse.
The text was first published in Vetenskap & Hälsa.
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