“Six Signs Memory Problems Could Be Serious”

Johns Hopkins Health Alerts has a good (but alarming!) list of six key signs that memory loss could be serious. The six signs include:

* difficulty with routine tasks
* getting lost
* loss of recent memory
* forgetting simple words
* poor judgment in financial matters
* mood change

The full article is copied below.



Six Key Signs That Memory Loss May Be Serious”
Johns Hopkins Health Alerts

At least three-fourths of people over age 50 report that their memory is not as good as it was. The reality is that more than 90 percent of those who do complain about memory impairment do not have Alzheimer’s or dementia. Many memory complaints reflect changes in ability over time but appear to be relatively minor and due to normal age-related changes in the function of the brain.

So how do you know if your loved one is part of the minority whose changes in memory are more serious and warrant an evaluation by a health professional?

Red flags. Momentarily forgetting someone’s name or a specific word is actually normal and does not necessarily worsen with age. The following behaviors, in contrast, may be signs that something more serious is taking place.

Difficulty with routine tasks. Trouble completing tasks that a person has done many times before, like figuring out a tip at a restaurant, filling out tax forms or managing a checkbook, is a real reason for concern.

Getting lost. Another red flag is when a person becomes lost while walking or driving in a familiar place, even if the person says the navigational difficulties were due to inclement weather or having to make a big detour. This too is a potential warning sign of early Alzheimer’s or dementia that needs to be investigated further.

Loss of recent memory. Forgetting what you had for dinner the day before or what movie you watched a few hours earlier is not always a sign of normal brain aging. Other warnings include forgetting important dates or events or repeatedly asking the same question.

Forgetting simple words. People with Alzheimer’s or dementia may also have difficulty following or joining in a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a sentence and be unable to pick up where they left off. This is different from the occasional difficulty coming up with a name or word.

Poor judgment in financial matters. It’s not uncommon for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia to buy things they don’t need, to give away significant sums of money to telemarketers or unscrupulous salespeople, or to repeatedly make donations in response to mailed or telephoned requests to legitimate organizations.

Mood change. People with Alzheimer’s or dementia may exhibit confusion, suspicion, fear, depression or anxiety, traits that they never had before.

Finally, when a person regularly complains about poor memory and mentions that it is worsening from the year before, it should be looked into.