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If You Can't Remember This, You May Have Memory Loss

It could be a sign of dementia.

We all get forgetful at times, particularly when multitasking or stressed out. Forgetting that item on the to-do list you swore to remember, where you put your phone, or the new neighbor's name can be irritating. But when does it become a health concern that warrants further investigation? It depends on what you can't recall and what that means for everyday life. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


When Memory Loss Could Be Serious

senior woman with adult daughter at home.

Experts say that problems with memory are one of the first signs of cognitive impairment that may indicate dementia. This may include forgetting recently learned information; forgetting recent events (such as a conversation that occurred minutes or hours earlier) or important dates; or asking the same questions repeatedly.

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How This Differs From Normal Aging

Bunch of keys lies on a wooden table.

Forgetfulness happens. It's a facet of normal aging. But when memory issues begin to interfere with everyday life, it warrants investigation by a doctor. For example: It's normal to occasionally forget where you put your keys. But if you frequently have trouble retracing your steps to find them, it could be a sign of dementia.

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What Is Dementia, Exactly?

older man with dementia talking to doctor
Shutterstock / Robert Kneschke

Dementia is an umbrella term for several disorders of the brain that involve changes to memory, thinking, personality, and judgment. Ultimately, these changes interfere with a person's ability to function and live an independent life. 

Most cases of dementia are diagnosed in people older than 65, and the biggest risk factor for dementia is simply getting older. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting about 6.2 million Americans. 

Seeking treatment early may slow the progression of dementia. That's why it's important to stay alert to potential symptoms.

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Other Symptoms of Dementia

Senior Hispanic Man Suffering With Dementia Trying To Dress

Other warning signs of dementia can include:

  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks (like a frequently cooked recipe or balancing a checkbook) 
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Confusion about time or place (such as getting lost on a familiar route)
  • Changes in mood or personality

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When to See a Doctor

Doctor and senior woman wearing facemasks

Experts say that if you or someone you know is experiencing memory loss, it's important to seek a thorough medical evaluation. This may warrant a trip to a specialist, such as a geriatrician or a neurologist. Not all memory loss is due to dementia; it can have treatable causes, such as insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression. The only way to know for certain is to get any concerns checked out. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael