High Ridge

What Is Normal Aging vs. Memory Loss?

In the United States, 6.2 million people ages 65 and older have Alzheimer’s disease, just one of the various types of dementia and memory loss, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Are you or a loved one among those who could have memory loss, or do the signs point to normal aging?

While it can be difficult to tell, there are some indications that you may be dealing with one over the other. We’re here to share these signs with you so you can better evaluate whether it’s time to reach out to a doctor for help or a medical diagnosis.

Signs of Normal Aging vs. Signs of Memory Loss


It’s normal to forget a name, an appointment, what day it is, or what you walked into a room for. Often, it’s a short-lived lapse, with the information coming to your mind soon afterward. Usually when this occurs, it isn’t a cause for concern.

It does, however, become a concern when forgetfulness and memory loss impact daily life. Those with memory loss may find themselves forgetting the names of close friends and family, forgetting recent events, or asking the same questions repeatedly. If you notice any of these signs, it could be that memory loss, not normal aging, is the problem.

Difficulty completing familiar daily tasks

For those who are experiencing signs of normal aging, you may find that you’re less able to manage multiple tasks. This can be especially true when you’re distracted or overwhelmed.

If you find that you’re no longer able to complete familiar tasks, are unable to pay bills, tasks are taking you much longer, or you need more help or reminders, you could be experiencing memory loss.

Language changes

Everyone has trouble finding the right words from time to time. In fact, if something is just on the tip of your tongue and eventually comes to you, it’s likely normal.

Those with memory loss, however, may say things like “bed” instead of “table,” or “arm clock” instead of “wristwatch,” and may mix up their words frequently. Those with memory loss may also find that it’s hard to follow or join conversations.

Misplacing items

Do you find yourself misplacing items but quickly being able to retrace your steps to find them? That’s a good sign you’re dealing with normal aging. Those who are unable to do so, or who are putting objects in unusual places frequently – like the telephone in the fridge – may be dealing with memory loss.

Getting lost

Many people tend to temporarily forget a destination, or they may need a moment to pause to think about directions. Despite this, they get right back on track with their destination certain.

Those with memory loss may easily get lost while walking or driving in a familiar area, sometimes leaving them in dangerous situations. Getting home may take them even longer, as well. If this is becoming something you’re frequently noticing, it might be time to discuss whether it’s safe to drive or if it’s time to hang up the keys.

What To Do if You Suspect You or a Loved One Has Memory Loss

If you feel like yourself or a loved one is experiencing memory problems that aren’t a normal part of aging, or if you think either of you could be dealing with early signs of dementia, schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider. They can help you evaluate whether it’s normal aging or dementia.

In the meantime, it can also help to reduce risk factors and enhance brain health. This is true whether you’re dealing with memory loss or simply want to lower your chances of dementia in the future.

According to the CDC, some of the things you can do include quitting smoking, maintaining healthy blood pressure, managing high blood pressure, getting exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, aiming for better sleep, remaining involved and engaged in life, and managing blood sugar.

Can Other Conditions Cause Memory Loss?

A doctor can help you determine whether you or a loved one may be dealing with side effects from another condition. The CDC states that some conditions can cause memory loss or dementia-like symptoms to occur in older adults, including vitamin B12 deficiency, hypothyroidism, infections, normal pressure hydrocephalus, and certain prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines.

If It’s Memory Loss, What Should the Next Steps Be?

Family members and people with dementia or memory loss should begin planning for the future. Hold a family meeting, begin talking about care options, discuss care preferences, settle any legal matters that need to be taken care of, gather knowledge on the condition, and focus on treating and managing symptoms.


If you or a loved one is dealing with memory loss, contact our team. We are here to provide support, care and resources to make this time easier. To learn more or schedule a visit, contact us today.


Waterstone on High Ridge offers a modern approach to senior living in a beautiful hilltop setting. Come see how we redefine independent living, assisted living and memory care in Fairfield County.