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True or False? Does memory loss mean you have Alzheimers’ disease?

A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia, and turns that understanding into simple actions that help people with dementia live well. Become a Dementia Friend

Reality: Having trouble with your memory as you get older, does not necessarily mean you have Alzheimer’s disease. As well, anxiety, stress, sleep disorders and even depression can affect memory.  When memory loss affects day-to-day function, and especially when this is coupled with lack of judgment and reasoning, or changes in communication abilities, it’s best to visit a doctor to determine the cause of the symptoms.

What are some of the signs of Alzheimer’s?

1. Memory loss affecting day-to-day abilities – forgetting things often or struggling to retain new information can be a sign of Alzheimer’s.  Not being able to remember details of a conversation or event that took place a year ago is part of normal aging.

2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks – forgetting how to do something you’ve been doing your whole life, such as preparing a meal or getting dressed.

3. Problems with language – forgetting words or substituting words that don’t fit the context can be a sign of Alzheimer’s.  Occasionally have difficulty finding words is part of normal aging.

4. Disorientation in time and space – not knowing what day of the week it is or getting lost in a familiar place.

5. Impaired judgment – not recognizing a medical problem that needs attention or wearing light clothing on a cold day.

6. Problems with abstract thinking – not understanding what numbers signify on a calculator, for example, or how they’re used.

7. Misplacing things – putting things in strange places, like an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.

8. Changes in mood and behaviour – exhibiting severe mood swings from being easy-going to quick-tempered.

9. Changes in personality – behaving out of character such as feeling paranoid or threatened.

10. Loss of initiative – losing interest in friends, family and favourite activities.

To learn more about normal memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, read the publication Dispelling the Myths published by the Société Alzheimer de l’Ouatouais Québécois

Having trouble remembering things?  It’s important to know when to see your doctor about memory concerns but it’s equally important to know that forgetting someone’s name doesn’t necessarily mean that you are getting dementia. Watch the video.

What is the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?  If you have been confused by these terms in the past, or mistakenly thought that they were the same thing, watch the video:

These videos were taken from Société Alzheimer de l’Ouatouais Québécois‘ Website, and the material was created by TCD, through the NEIL Programme at the Institute of Neuroscience with support from GENIO.