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How is Alzheimer’s different than old-age Memory Loss?

Posted May 29 2011 2:29pm
05/29/2011 By ~ Sandy Leave a Comment

For many years it was thought that memory loss was nothing more than hardening of the arteries suffered by most people during the natural aging process. Often called “senility,” it was common to equate the behaviors of someone with Alzheimer’s as “old age senility.” At 93, my grandmother was considered “senile” and her children forced to place her in a nursing home due to erratic, odd behavior.

During the last few years of her life, my grandmother spent her days wandering the halls of that nursing home searching for a new-born baby whose cries haunted her day and night. The baby needed to be “nursed,” my grandmother surmised, and spent many hours crying about that neglected child. That was fifty years ago. Today, we would know better.

Today, my grandmother might  be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and given a baby doll to end her constant search for that crying baby. Just as her daughter (my mother) was given a light-weight pocket-book.

Mom worried about someone stealing her money. She would loop the strap of her pocket-book over her arm and grip that purse firmly with her other hand to prevent anyone from stealing her money. The coin purse inside that pocket-book guarded 2 dollars and 25 cents but it might as well have been a million dollars because that’s the value my Mom put on that pocket-book.

Mom remembered that money long after she’d forgotten me, and checked that coin purse hundreds of times a day to be certain it had not been stolen.

And yet, my Ninety-something Uncle who is healthy and fit, both physically and mentally, will argue against my modern day prognosis for his mother and my grandmother.

“She was old,” he will say, “and old age made her senile and made her imagine that crying baby, nothing more. She didn’t have Alzheimer’s like Jane (my mother/his sister).” He will argue the natural aging process despite the fact that he is nearing the same age, himself, and has no sign of cognitive decline. For him, already set in his way, there is no Alzheimer’s, simply old age senility that took the mind of his mother (my grandmother.)

Thankfully, we know better now, and the awareness of Alzheimer’s along with the Stages and Symptoms are readily available for anyone to find. Hopefully, awareness to Alzheimer’s and how it differs from regular aging will be common knowledge someday.

With more awareness, more people will understand the basics of coping with the behaviors of the Alzheimer’s patient. “You can’t force someone with Alzheimer’s to remember something just because you want them to. You must change yourself, accept the loss of their memories and build on what they do know.”

With awareness new research studies will find better ways to diagnose and new medicines will be prescribed earlier, to delay symptoms for those who suffer.

Is it Old age or Dementia? That question can actually be answered simply–

  • As the brain ages it is not unusual to forget the name of someone, particularly if you haven’t seen them in awhile.
  • Aging can make it difficult to find the right word when speaking or writing, or hard to remember the name of an object that isn’t used often.
  • With older age, it takes longer to learn new skills or accept new ideas. It may take longer to react to things since reflexes slow down with the aging process.
  • A characteristic of the normal aging process is that general intelligence (which medical scientists call “psycho-motor functions” or “cognitive functioning”) remains normal, and reasoning abilities and judgment are not altered with aging.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s are much more Problematic than simple lapses of memory

  • Difficulties with ordinary tasks and daily activities
  • Making Unusual decisions or acting inappropriately
  • Difficulty learning new things
  • Dependency- fear of leaving familiar surroundings suspicious of the activities of others; overly dependent


For More Details on Stages and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia See this Article –> The Stages

For More information the following books are also available:

The 36 Hour Day | The Alzheimer’s Answer Book | Alzheimer’s Action Plan | A Caregiver’s Guide to Alzheimer’s



Filed Under: Cognitive Decline Tagged With: ,

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