May 4, 2009 -- Question: What are some of the memory-related symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, and how do you differentiate between regular memory loss and memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease?
Answer: So, the memory changes of Alzheimer's disease represent a change for that person in terms of forgetfulness. Of course, some of us are absent minded all of our lives, but if we have an increased propensity to become forgetful -- perhaps to ask a question that has already been answered or increasingly misplace items -- forget appointments, forget medications. If these are new changes, then that's a worry sometimes for Alzheimer's disease. And, of course, if this forgetfulness increases, then other people have to help the individual remember to take their medications or to find the misplaced item.
Healthy aging, although lots of people are concerned about memory changes, healthy older adults do not need others to assist them in their daily life. So that is the big difference between Alzheimer's disease and the memory lapses of normal aging -- whether or not person can remain independent, do things themselves. That's healthy aging.