Early memory loss can happen to anyone but it is more commonly associated with older adults than younger ones which can make it harder to decipher from the occasional and normal senior moment. Since it can be tricky to try and understand what is normal forgetfulness and what constitutes the early indicators of dementia, there are several signs that you can look for if you suspect a loved one is experiencing early memory loss.
For example, while it is normal for people to tell stories about their life experiences, it is not normal for people to tell the same story repeatedly in the same session because they forgot that they had already told the story.
And while it is also normal for anyone of any age to forget the names of acquaintances once in a while or to remember faces more than names, it is not normal to forget the names of people they should know such as their spouse, friends or children.
Keep in mind it's normal to misplace things. Everyone misplaces their car keys once in a while and then finds them someplace expected like in their coat pocket or the bottom of their purse. This becomes a problematic indicator of memory loss when the misplaced items such as car keys turn up in places that they shouldn't be found, such as the dishwasher or freezer.
It's also not uncommon for people who are experiencing the symptoms of early memory loss to have a difficult time completing tasks that they normally could do without assistance such as balancing a check book or driving to familiar places. This is usually one of the signs of dementia that can't be hidden or explained away by a senior moment.
People who are experiencing early memory loss will often begin to demonstrate a change in personality, becoming more aggressive or angry without cause, for example. This can be brought on by confusion about whom they are and where they are and can be scary to witness.
The best course of action is to see a physician for a checkup at the first signs of memory loss and rule out other causes including a vitamin deficiency or thyroid disorder. It is also possible that an untreated anxiety disorder or depression can be mimicking some of the same symptoms of memory loss which is why medical intervention is an important first step to take.
Ignoring the signs of a problem will not make the problem go away or prevent it from escalating into Alzheimer's disorder. But paying attention to the early warning signs can mean getting the most from early intervention therapy and keeping the early symptoms of dementia from worsening.
There is no cure for early memory loss but there is hope and there are intervention options that have shown some success, so if you feel your loved one needs help, don't ignore the signs. Every day can make the difference between stabilization or digressing further into forgetfulness.