Memory loss is not always associated with dementia and can be caused by many factors including normal aging, stress and reactions to certain types of medications. Two common memory loss conditions sometimes mistaken for dementia are age-related memory loss and mild cognitive impairment.
Age-related memory loss
The most common cause of memory loss is the normal aging process. Normal memory loss includes:
- difficulty remembering the names of people and places
- slowed thinking
- the need for cues, such as words and pictures
- increased use of notes, calendars and other planning tools
With normal memory loss, you may be able to recall information you’ve forgotten at a later point in time. Someone with dementia may not be able to recall the information at all. They may also have difficulty thinking and problem solving, which leads to trouble performing the activities of daily living.
One way to distinguish normal memory loss from dementia is to contact your care team and set up cognitive testing. If the memory loss is normal, the test score will fall within the normal range for the age group range. If the score is outside the normal age group range, a condition known as mild cognitive impairment may exist.
Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
Trouble with memory loss can also be a sign of mild cognitive impairment. This is diagnosed by results outside the norm on cognitive tests. This condition is similar to age-related memory loss and tasks and responsibilities associated with daily living can still be performed. Someone with a mild cognitive impairment has a 10-15% increased risk of developing dementia.
We recommend that anyone with memory loss remain both cognitively and physically active. Suggested activities.