Memory Lapse or Dementia? 5 Clues to Help Tell the Difference
Uh-oh. You can’t find your keys. You forgot the name of your newest neighbor—again. And exactly where did you park your car at the mall, anyway?
An occasional memory slip is normal, says Johns Hopkins geriatrician Sevil Yasar, M.D., Ph.D. But as you age, these “senior moments” may leave you wondering whether you’re heading for dementia—the loss of memory and thinking skills severe enough to interfere with independent living, often due to Alzheimer’s disease or other brain changes.
“Stress, an extra-busy day, poor sleep and even some medications can interfere with making and recalling memories,” Yasar says. “And we all have moments when a name or the title of a movie is right on the tip of the tongue, but those events are different from the kinds of lapses that may be warning signs for dementia.”
Most of the time, memory lapses are nothing to worry about. “But any time you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one, it’s worth talking with your doctor,” Yasar says.
So how can you tell the difference between simple slipups and something that may be more serious? The important thing to look for is persistent change in our ability to think and function. Below are five clues.
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