With age, elderly people tend to become forgetful in doing even the most ordinary things in life. In such situations, caring for an older member of the family often becomes difficult, especially if you are working. The elderly person might start having brief lapses in memory, like forgetting the name of someone familiar or misplacing keys. Also, they might get lost in familiar places or tend to forget to turn off the water faucet or stove, or burn food due to forgetfulness. This would be an indication of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The memory lapses can increase with aging as well as when the elderly get stressed. If the elderly family member already has dementia, then the memory-related problems will become all the more persistent. Also, they will develop symptoms such that you will feel it is increasingly difficult to cope with them.

A common complaint

Forgetfulness is often a common complaint among the elderly. You often start a conversation with them where you feel that they are unable to remember a few things that have happened recently. For instance, if you watched a movie last week and you start discussing it, the elderly person might just forget the title of the movie. This is an initial sign of forgetfulness. For instance, if you are giving directions for the way to your house, you might suddenly find that your elderly family member can’t remember a familiar street name.

Common problems

Often it happens that they stand in the middle of the house wondering what they are actually looking for there and how they ended up there. These are common symptoms of memory loss in the elderly. However, this is not the case with all elderly people. There are many elderly people around who are strong in their mind and health. They do not suffer from forgetfulness. This might be because of genetic reasons or their healthy lifestyle or adequate mental exercise. For this reason, you also have to understand the difference between the symptoms of forgetfulness in adults which indicate cognitive problems and normal age-related memory loss.

Care needed

Memory lapses can be annoying for the elderly as well as for you. However, if you find any such symptoms or signs, do not hesitate to take them to the doctor. At this stage, they need critical care and attention. They need to be independent, happy, and healthy. If you are not savvy in taking care of them, then it’s important to take them to a concerned physician, nurse, or caretaker.

Reasons for age-related memory loss

While you age, you often experience physiological transformations which lead to hindrances in brain functions. At times, it can take longer than usual to retain and recall basic information. It becomes apparent that you are not as quick or sharp as you once were. This might just be the result of retardation in brain function, in other words, slowing of mental processes, instead of actual memory loss.

Health habits, lifestyle and eating habits, along with daily activities can actually have a significant impact on the health of the brain. So, the memory loss problem in elderly adults depends on these factors to a great extent too.


Since 2001, Dr. Alexander 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, including alcohol addiction.