Losing some memories over time is natural. Our memories fade naturally, and they get overwritten by new experiences. But memory loss can be the first symptom of cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s.
So how do you know whether you are dealing with normal memory loss or early dementia?
Here are three important things to consider:
1. Dementia Can Impact Your Ability to Understand Symbols
If you suddenly can’t read a map, read a clock, or understand some common words or whole sentences, you might be dealing with serious cognitive impairment. You should seek out an expert immediately.
2. People with Dementia May Temporarily or Permanently Lose Basic Skills
Regular memory loss doesn’t impact your ability to do things you repeat daily, such as driving or talking. If you have dementia, you might suddenly forget how to do something that is part of your everyday life. This can cause serious problems, so you should tell your loved ones and consult professional help as soon as possible.
3. Unlike Normal Memory Loss, Dementia Can Impact Recent Memories
When you forget something that happened decades ago, it can be because you haven’t used the memory for a while. But if you can’t recall anything that happened yesterday, it is probably a sign of some form of dementia.
Note that this doesn’t extend to things like forgetting the contents of a grocery list, or the name of a new acquaintance at a busy social gathering. That kind of forgetting can just mean that you didn’t commit the information to your long-term memory in the first place.
If you’re not sure whether you are suffering from memory loss or early dementia, there’s no shame in getting a doctor to examine you. Most forms of dementia progress very quickly, and it can be a great help to discover them in time.