When does misplacing our keys turn into an issue?

Learn about the signs of of memory loss and Alzheimer's.

Photo: Pexels/George Becker.

As we get older, it may become more common to misplace keys or forget the names of acquaintances. However, if a person begins to experience memory loss, such as forgetting familiar faces or how to find their way home, these instances may be a sign that is not a normal part of the aging process.

For example, normal aging means you may forget, from time to time, where you parked your car outside after leaving a store, but memory loss that is not normal to aging would be if you forgot how you got to the store in the first place.

People are encouraged to see their healthcare provider if they are concerned about memory loss or if they are experiencing any of these potential signs of dementia, as listed by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life, forgetting important event dates or relying on memory aids such as sticky notes.
  • Asking the same question repeatedly.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems, such as developing a budget, inability to follow a well-known family recipe or how to balance a checkbook.
  • Confusion with time or place. For example, a person may forget how to get home from shopping at the mall, may not remember how to play a favorite card game or may be confused as to the current season.
  • Placing items in inappropriate places, such as putting keys in the refrigerator.
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing, such as calling an object by another name, not remembering what the conversation was about, being unable to find the right word or forgetting common vocabulary words.
  • Unexplained changes in mood or behavior.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. To learn more about signs and symptoms, refer to the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Loss & 10 Early Signs of Alzheimer’s and Dementia website. This website also has information to help families learn more about Alzheimer's disease, memory loss expected with aging and signs of when to seek assistance from health professionals.

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension recognizes that overall human health encompasses many aspects, and positive health outcomes involve integrated mental, physical, social, emotional and environmental approaches.

If you are interested in learning more about ways Michigan State University Extension can help you be healthier, please visit our Food & Health website and check out some of our classes. You can also visit our self-referral online form to find out about or sign up for many other classes to improve your health.

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