How to Recognize Memory Impairment

We’ve all experienced memory lapses from forgetting a phone number we use frequently to finding ourselves unable to remember where we laid the car keys. These forgetful moments are normal and during our younger years, we don’t think much about, but as we get older we start to notice it more about others and ourselves. When incidents happen occasionally and result in remembering later, they do not really interfere with daily activities and enjoying life. However, when memory issues begin to impair communication, judgment, and reasoning skills, there may be reason for concern.


Memory impairment that interferes with safety and disrupts day-to-day living can be annoying. Whether you are questioning your own memory retention, or that of a loved one, knowing the signs that are indicative of dementia or Alzheimer’s will help you feel empowered so you’ll know if there is reason for concern. Continue reading to learn what to look for and how you can get help.


Early signs of memory loss may include the following:

  • Routine tasks take longer than before, such as following a recipe.

  • Difficulty finding the correct words or confusing words in a sentence such as saying chair instead of table.

  • Consistently misplacing items or placing an item in the cabinet instead of the refrigerator.

  • Unexplained mood swings or irritability.

  • Getting disoriented or lost on a frequently traveled walk or driving route.

  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities.


Visible behavioral changes can also be indicative of cognitive decline. Sometimes you’ll notice transformations like personality shifts, poor judgment, or observe a person’s consistent inability to make decisions. For instance, an individual suffering from dementia might go from being shy in public to becoming outgoing; or they may seem nonchalant about things or people that were extremely important before.


Seek Medical Advice

Memory issues and bouts of forgetfulness do not necessarily signal a major issue. Sometimes it can be a result of fatigue, or a chemical or hormonal imbalance. However, if you have concerns, it would be recommended that you get a comprehensive geriatric assessment from a medical provider or dementia specialist. This assessment focuses on evaluating an older person’s physical health, motor skills, social interactions, comprehension skills, and mental health to determine if an individual should continue to live independently.

Although memory impairment and neurodegenerative disease are more prominent in the elderly, it can occur to individuals much younger and the sooner problems are detected, the easier to slow its progression and continue a normal, fulfilling life.