Is Working Memory Loss Considered Natural Aging Or Is It More?

Your working memory is your short-term memory. It's the immediate recall that tells you where you placed your keys after you took them out of your purse. As you age, your working memory loses some of its sharpness. But is it a sign of Alzheimer's or dementia?

Working Memory and Dementia

Dementia's the umbrella term for all sorts of normal age-related memory loss. With memory loss often comes a loss of reasoning and communication skills. With dementia, working memory presents itself as annoying at first.

Annoying working memory issues include walking into a room and forgetting why you're there or peering into the refrigerator knowing you need something but you can't recall what it is you wanted. These annoyances tend to increase with age.

As you age, annoyances often become concerns when you forget that you put a pan of water on the stove and it boils dry. Perhaps you keep calling your kids and can't remember why you called them and you know it was important, like fixing your leaky sink.

Concerns become dangerous the pan on the stove begins to blacken and burn or you've called your kids needing immediate help but can't recall why. Working memory is one of the most important safety issues for seniors. And for some, dementia becomes Alzheimer's.

Working Memory and Alzheimer's

Around 60 to 70 percent of all dementia patients have Alzheimer's disease. When dementia becomes Alzheimer's, working memory loss becomes more pronounced, more specific, more often. Long-term memory is often much easier to recall than working memory for someone in the varying stages of this disease.

Forgetting who your children are is a classic symptom that people tend to recognize. Getting lost on a walk and forgetting your name and address is usually for someone who has already been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

When to Seek Help

It can be difficult to tell the difference between natural aging, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Working memory and information processing are sharper when people are young, making learning new things easier. As people age, learning new things becomes more of a challenge due to working memory issues. People just can't retain information like they used to.

Talking with your primary care physician is the first step. Only your doctor can help you sort out whether your memory issues are due to natural aging or not. If your doctor thinks that there is a reason for follow-up, there are a battery of tests that you can take to determine if your memory issues are related to dementia or Alzheimer's.

For more information, contact a place like Siskiyou Springs Senior Living.