Normal Aging Versus Dementia

aging white hair manAlzheimer’s disease and related dementias are not a part of normal aging.

Approximately 40% of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss. When there is no underlying medical condition causing this impairment, it is known as “Age-Associated Memory Impairment”, which is considered a part of the normal aging process.

Age-Associated Memory Impairment can be distinguished from a brain disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease in a variety of ways. In general, a memory problem may become an issue if it begins to affect your day-to-day living. Most older adults do not go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.

Below are some examples of Age-Associated Memory Impairment and memory loss that may be related to a dementia.

Note: this is not a diagnostic tool.

Normal Aging Dementia
Not being able to remember small details of a conversation or event that took place a year ago Not being able to recall details of recent events or conversations
Not being able to remember the name of an acquaintance Not recognizing or knowing the names of family members
Forgetting things and events occasionally Forgetting things or events more frequently
Occasionally have difficulty finding words Frequent pauses and substitutions when finding words
You are worried about your memory but your relatives are not Your relatives are worried about your memory, but you are not aware of any problems

If you have any concerns about your memory, talk to your family doctor. He or she may be able to rule out other causes for memory loss.

If you have already determined that you are experiencing normal age-related memory problems, there are strategies which can improve your brain health and may strengthen you memory abilities. Learn more about brain health…

There are many suggestions for how older adults can cope with normal age-related memory difficulties. For example:

  • Keep a routine
  • Organize information (keep details in a calendar or day planner)
  • Put items in the same spot (always put your keys in the same place by the door)
  • Repeat information (example, repeat names when you meet people)
  • Run through the ABCs in your head to help you remember a word
  • Make associations (relate new information to things that you already know)
  • Involve your senses (if you are a visual learner, visualize an item)
  • Teach or retell stories to other people
  • Get plenty of rest each night


Risk Factors
Risk Factors

Risk factors are characteristics of the person, their lifestyle and environment that contribute to the likelihood of getting the disease.

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Warning Signs
Warning Signs

Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include loss of memory, difficulty with day-to-day tasks, and changes in mood and behaviour.

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Getting a Diagnosis
Getting a Diagnosis

Diagnosing dementia is a complex and difficult process, requiring the time and expertise of skilled practitioners.

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Treatment Options
Treatment Options

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease and no treatment that will stop its progression. Several drugs are available that can help with some symptoms.

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