It’s safe to say that probably every one of us, at one time or another, has forgotten something important. Having the occasional memory lapse is common and in most cases, no big deal.
As we get older, these memory issues seem to get a bit more frequent. Some people even joke about their “senior moments” because they spend 20 minutes looking for the glasses that were perched on top of their head. Again, in many cases, these now-and-then anecdotes are not really anything to worry about.
But when do memory issues become something that we need to be concerned about?
When does not remembering where you parked your car cross over from something innocuous to something more serious?
Several years ago, I was reading an article on memory loss and the difference was explained in a very easy-to-understand and poignant way: if you forget where you put your car keys, that’s normal. But if you forget what you are supposed to do with your car keys once you find them, then you probably have a problem.
It wasn’t too long ago when increasingly concerning forgetfulness that comes with aging was thought of as exactly that—something that just naturally happens to us as we get older. Most people who continually forget things were labeled as “senile” or diagnosed with dementia. While dementia is still a valid diagnosis, more research has been done on this topic- if this group of “senile seniors” were still alive today, most of them would be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
If you do a quick Google search on Alzheimer’s statistics, you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
According to an Alzheimer’s prevention website I found, more than five million Americans have been diagnosed with the condition. That translates to one in every eight people 65 and older. Once you hit 85, you have a one in two chance of having Alzheimer’s. The future outlook is even grimmer—it is estimated that once the majority of baby boomers reach the age of 65 next year, these statistics will skyrocket and we will have a virtual epidemic to contend with.
It’s also worth noting that Alzheimer’s disease is not reserved solely for people over 65.