Signs of Memory Loss

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Signs of Memory Loss 

1. Memory Lapses

  • Does the person ask repetitive questions or retell stories within minutes of the first mention?


  • Does he or she forget the names of recent acquaintances or younger family members, such as grandchildren?

  • Are the lapses happening more frequently (several times a day or within short periods of time)

Everyone forgets some things sometimes.  But your loved one may have Alzheimer’s disease if you notice significant memory lapses.  Having problems with memory is the first and foremost symptom noticed.  It is a typical Alzheimer’s symptom to forget things learned recently (such as the answer to a question, an intention to do something or a new acquaintance) but to still be able to remember things from the remote past such as events or people from childhood —  sometimes with explicit detail. 

2. Confusion Over Words

  • Does the person have difficulty finding the “right” word when he’s speaking?

  • Does the person forget or substitute words for everyday things (such as “the cooking thingamajig” for a cooking pot or “hair fixer” for comb)?

Of course it’s normal for anyone to occasionally “blank” on a word, ever now and again, but it’s considered a red flag for Alzheimer’s if this happens with growing frequency.  This can be a very frustrating experience for the speaker.  He or she might stall during a conversation, fixating on finding a particular word, or replace the right word with another word, especially early on in the disease process. 

3. Marked Changes in Mood or Personality

  • Has the person who’s usually assertive become more subdued (or vice versa) or has the person who’s reserved become less inhibited?

  • Does he or she withdraw, even from family and friends, perhaps in response to problems with memory or communication?

  • Has the person developed mood swings, anxiety, or frustration, especially in connection with embarrassing memory lapses or noticeable communication problems?

  • Has he or she developed uncharacteristic fears of new or unknown environments or situations, or developed a distrust of others, whether strangers or familiar people?

  • Do you see signs of depression (including changes in sleep, appetite, mood)?


Mood shifts are a difficult sign to link definitively to Alzheimer’s because age and any medical condition may spark changes in someone’s mood, personality or behavior.  But in combination with other Alzheimer’s symptoms, mood changes such as those described above may contribute to a suspicion of the disease.

A person with Alzheimer’s may also become restless and/or aggressive, but usually in later stages of the disease.

4. Trouble with Abstract Thinking

  • How well does the person handle relatively simple mathematical tasks, such as balancing a checkbook?

  • Does the person have trouble paying bills or keeping finances in order, tasks he previously had no problem completing?

  • Does he or she have trouble following along with a discussion, understanding an explanation, or following instructions?

Abstract thinking becomes increasingly challenging for someone with Alzheimer’s, especially if the topic is complex or if the reasoning is sequential or related to cause and effect.

5. Difficulty Completing Familiar Activities

  • Has the person begun to have trouble preparing meals?

  • Is the person less engaged in a hobby that once absorbed her (bridge, painting, crossword puzzles)?

  • Does he or she stop in the middle of a project, such as baking or making a repair, and fail to complete it?

  • Has the person stopped using a particular talent or skill that once gave her pleasure (sewing, singing, playing the piano)?

Activities with various different steps, however routine and familiar, can become difficult to complete for a person with Alzheimer’s.  Your loved one might become distracted or lose track of where he or she is in the process, feeling confused.  Or the person might just lose interest altogether and leave a project unfinished.

Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia is especially suspect when the difficult or abandoned activity is something the person formerly delighted in and excelled at, or used to engage in frequently.

6. Disorientation


  • Has the person begun to be disoriented in new or unfamiliar environments (such as a hospital or airport), asking where he or she is, how he or she got there, or how to get back to a place that’s recognizable?


  • Has the person become disoriented in an environment she knows well?

  • Does the person wander off and get lost in public (or get lost when driving or after parking)?

  • Does he or she lose track of the time, day, month, or year?  For example, after being reminded about a future doctor’s appointment over the phone, she may start getting ready for the appointment right away.  Or they may have trouble keeping appointments and remembering other events or commitments.

These examples of disorientation are all typical Alzheimer’s symptoms, more so in later stages of the disease but sometimes early on as well.

7. Misplacing Items

  • Does the person “lose” items often?


  • Do these items turn up in unusual places (such as finding a wallet in the freezer)?

Losing track of glasses, keys, and papers happens to most adults sometimes, whether due to age or just a busy lifestyle.  However, it may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s if this behavior escalates and if items are sometimes stored in inappropriate or unusual places, and the person doesn’t remember having put them there.

8. Poor or Impaired Judgment

  • Has the person recently made questionable decisions about money management?

  • Has he or she made odd choices regarding self-care (such as dressing inappropriately for the weather or neglecting to bathe)?

  • Is it hard for the person to plan ahead (for example, figuring out what groceries are needed or where to spend a holiday)?

Difficulty with decision-making can be related to other possible symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as lapses in memory, personality changes, and trouble with abstract thinking.  Inappropriate choices are an especially worrisome sign, as your loved one may make unsound decisions about his safety, health or finances.

Many of these Alzheimer’s symptoms go unnoticed for a long time.  That’s because they’re often subtle or well concealed by the person (or a spouse), who may be understandably concerned by the changes they are noticing.  Some patterns of behavior take time to become obvious. 

If you suspect Alzheimer’s, keep track of what you’re noticing. Ask others who know your loved one what they think. Encourage the person to see a doctor.

Senior Living Options Group LLC

N 14th St

Phoenix AZ 85014



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The contents of this webpage are copyright © 2021

Senior Living Options Group
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 Senior Living Options Group, LLC

 North 14th Street

 Phoenix AZ 85014



  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

The contents of this webpage are copyright © 2021

Senior Living Options Group LLC
All Right Reserved