One day you can’t remember your age, and the next you forget your best friend’s last name. Is it the early signs of age-related dementia, or could it be a sign of an underlying disorder, such as vitamin B12 deficiency from malabsorption?
The notion that forgetfulness is a common side effect of aging is a widely assumed myth. Many elderly individuals have sharp minds into their 80s or 90s, and many middle-aged people in their 40s or 50s can begin experiencing the earliest signs of dementia.
Only a doctor can diagnose dementia. While it’s normal to forgetful from time to time, this does not mean you’re suffering the effects of Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Here are some examples to help you understand the difference:
- Forgetfulness: Frequently forgetting where you left your car keys or cell phone.
- Dementia: Not being able to search for your keys, or think of logical places where you may have left them.
- Forgetfulness: Having a word on the tip of your tongue, but not being able to remember it quickly enough to use in conversation.
- Dementia: Not being able to have a normal conversation with anybody.
- Forgetfulness: Occasionally forgetting what day it is.
- Dementia: Being unaware of the relative time period, such as the decade, season, or who the president is.
- Forgetfulness: Missing a credit card payment occasionally.
- Dementia: Experiencing a steep decline in basic math and organizational skills, to the point of not being able to manage one’s own household budget.
- Forgetfulness: Walking into a room and forgetting why you entered.
- Dementia: Being unable to comprehend the difference between past events and real time; finding yourself in a room and not knowing how you got there.
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