7 Signs of Memory Loss in Seniors


Contrary to popular belief, significant loss of memory is not a ‘natural’ side effect of aging. If you’re noticing signs of memory loss in your loved one, it could be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease or another health issue.

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can be subtle in the early stages, which is why it’s important to know what to look out for as a family caregiver. Here are 7 key indicators of memory loss in seniors.

1. Their Hygiene is Poorer Than Usual

It’s common for seniors with memory loss to forget to carry out their usual personal care tasks like bathing, combing their hair or brushing their teeth. If you’ve noticed a decline in your loved one’s hygiene, it’s worth talking with them to find out why; because although this could be a sign of memory loss, it could also be down to reduced physical abilities. Communicating with them to figure out what they’re struggling with is the first step in getting the right assistance.

2. They’re Mixing up Their Words

Getting words mixed up is a classic sign of early memory loss. Sometimes, the words they use in place of others might make some sense (for example, ‘salt’ instead of ‘sugar’), but in other cases they could be completely unrelated. Of course, getting our words mixed up is something we all experience from time to time – but if it’s becoming more regular, it’s important not to brush it off.

3. They’re Forgetting Things

This is perhaps one of the most well-recognized symptoms of memory loss. Forgetfulness can manifest in different forms, and often starts subtly. For example, your loved one might lose objects like their keys or mobile phone more often than is typical for them, or perhaps they’ve started missing important appointments or engagements. And while we’ve all likely experienced the odd bout of forgetfulness, more regular incidents could be a tell-tale sign of memory loss.

4. Their Movement Has Changed

It may not be the most obvious sign of dementia, but memory loss can actually cause changes to and difficulties with movement. For example, it’s typical for patients with dementia to wander without purpose. If this isn’t recognized quickly, it can eventually lead to them getting lost or wandering into hazardous areas. Take note if you’ve noticed your loved one wandering, pacing or walking from room to room without any apparent goal.

5. They’re Less Able to Regulate Their Emotions

Many seniors with memory loss have difficulties in managing their emotions. Typical signs they’re struggling include quick changes in emotional state and increased feelings of fear, anxiety or sadness. They may also react to situations in ways that are inappropriate or disruptive given the context.

6. They’re Finding it Difficult to Concentrate

If you’ve noticed your loved one’s concentration has recently reduced or changed, this could be a result of memory loss. Typical signs of diminished concentration include beginning a task before quickly getting distracted and leaving before they’ve finished – they may then forget to come back to the task at a later time. This can be particularly problematic and impactful on their health if they’re unable to focus on vital activities of daily living.

7. They’ve Started to Hoard Items

When an aging senior is dealing with memory loss, you might notice them accumulating a lot of items in a way that’s unusual for them. Oftentimes, seniors simply forget they have something already, resulting in them going out to buy the same item again. They might also believe they have lost something completely when they forget where it is, even if the object is easy to locate in their home.

What you can do as a Family Caregiver

If you’ve noticed any of these potential signs of memory loss in your loved one, it’s important to visit a doctor for further advice. Memory loss in seniors could be a sign of dementia, or it could be down to something else – like depression, medication side effects or an infection.

Whatever the underlying cause, support is available for seniors and family caregivers. If their memory loss is becoming too severe for you to cope alone, a skilled nursing and memory care facility with professional caregivers could be the ideal solution.

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