Memory loss and forgetfulness are often intrinsically connected with the aging process. Elderly people often become worried about becoming forgetful. And this forgetfulness can become the initial sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms such as confusion have traditionally been a common part of memory loss during aging. However, scientists have also observed that many elderly people remain able and alert as they age.

Dementia, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s

Dementia is the usual forgetfulness that happens in older age. It is characterized by loss of memory and saying the same things repeatedly.

Memory loss is something that actually disrupts regular, normal life and can also be an initial symptom of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Alzheimer’s refers to a brain disease which leads to a slow decline in thinking, memory, and reasoning skills.

Symptoms of memory loss and forgetfulness

Lack of sleep is a common symptom associated with memory loss and forgetfulness during aging. In addition, mood swings and anxiety are common symptoms associated with memory loss in the elderly.

The other common symptoms are:

  • getting lost in familiar places
  • inability to recall things
  • inability to follow directions
  • repeating the same story again and again
  • asking the same question
  • staying confused about people, time, and places
  • challenges in solving problems and planning


Some people experience changes in their ability to follow or develop a plan. Also, people might face problems in sticking to a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. In addition, they might have difficulty in concentrating and hence end up taking a longer time in doing the regular chores.

Daily errands

People with memory loss also find it difficult to accomplish daily tasks, including leisurely activities. For instance, the person might encounter difficulty driving to his or her own address, remembering the rules of a highly popular and favourite game, or managing budget at work.


Elderly people with the problem of memory loss are also perplexed regarding time and place. They tend to lose track of seasons, dates, and passage of time. They also often face difficulty comprehending events that are not occurring in the moment or immediately in the future.


A major, prominent symptom of memory loss in the elderly is that they tend to get irritated due to the problem of forgetfulness. Because they have become unmanageable in their own eyes, this specific realization makes them annoyed with themselves. In particular, if a family member speaks out that the elderly person is not able to remember even the basic things, then they get even more irritated and this is a common symptom.


With forgetfulness, the elderly often find it difficult to write common words or speak out loud what they want to say. This is often a symptom of Alzheimer’s as well. The elderly have trouble in continuing or joining a conversation. Also, if they get stuck in the middle, they have trouble figuring out how to continue the same conversation. They also face this problem with their general vocabulary.

Finally, with memory loss, they tend to lose the ability to retrace their steps. If they lose anything, they tend to forget where they have dropped it and hence accuse others of stealing.


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.