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5 Signs You're Losing Your Memory, Say Experts

These kinds of memory loss could be a sign of dementia.

Having trouble remembering things can be unnerving. That can be especially the case after age 65, a time that brings an increased risk of dementia, the progressive brain disorder that can affect a person's cognition, judgment, and ability to live independently. But only certain kinds of memory loss are suspicious for dementia. These are the signs that could be worrisome, experts say. 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.


Forgetting These Specific Things

Man looking for a missing item under sofa.

Some forgetfulness is a normal part of aging. But certain forms of memory loss can be an early symptom of dementia. Everyone misplaces their keys or phone at times, but a person with dementia may have trouble retracing their steps to find missing items. Additionally, a person with dementia might have difficulty remembering recent events or newly learned information like names and places.


Getting Lost

Troubled middle-aged man staring off the his right as he stands in a deserted square in a historic town holding his mobile phone in his hand.

Poor orientation to time, place, person or situation are symptoms that may indicate dementia, says Scott Kaiser, MD, director of geriatric cognitive health at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. A person with dementia may become lost in places that were previously well-known, like in their own neighborhood or on a frequently driven route. They may forget how they got there and how to return home. 

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Forgetting Words

Close-up portrait of charming old lady, covering her mouth with hands

A common early sign of dementia is the impaired ability to communicate, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The affected person might have trouble finding the right words or finishing sentences. They might use substitutes or talk around words they're unable to remember.


Difficulty Completing Familiar Tasks

Woiman sitting at the table worrying about the money.

A person with dementia may begin having trouble with reading, writing, or complicated mental tasks like balancing a checkbook, following directions, or making calculations. Familiar tasks, like paying bills or cooking frequently used recipes, may become difficult.  "As memory problems pick up, the individual with early dementia will leave tasks incomplete, avoid complex games and projects and give up the financial management (like the checkbook) to a spouse or partner," says Thomas C. Hammond, MD, a neurologist with Baptist Health's Marcus Neuroscience Institute in Boca Raton, Florida. 

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Changes in Mood or Personality

Mature woman sitting on the sofa.

Personality or mood changes are frequently overlooked early signs of dementia; if they're happening in conjunction with memory loss, it's a good idea to consult a doctor. A person with early cognitive decline may spend less time with others and begin to self-isolate. They might become apathetic, losing interest in activities they had formerly enjoyed. 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