Normal Ageing vs. Alzheimer's Disease

As we age, we all begin to occasionally forget things – that's normal, and it's expected. But the changes that occur in Alzheimer's disease go far beyond mild forgetfulness.

It's important for you to know that many commonly used prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as naturopathic and alternative therapies, can cause side effects that may affect one's mental abilities. So be sure to discuss medication use with a doctor if you feel that you are seeing abnormal signs. Two other conditions that can mimic dementia-like symptoms are delirium, which can be caused by a number of factors, and depression. Your doctor will be able to distinguish between delirium, depression and dementia.

For a quick overview of how the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease differ from normal ageing, take a look at this table:

Normal ageing Early signs of Alzheimer's Disease
Forgetting the names of people you rarely see Forgetting the names of people close to you
Briefly forgetting part of an experience Forgetting a recent experience
Not putting things away properly Putting things away in strange places
Mood changes because of an appropriate cause Having unpredictable mood changes
Changes in your interests Decreased interest in activities

If you're seeing any of the above signs in someone close to you, it's a good idea to start keeping track of these signs in the Symptom Diary. You'll be one step closer to getting a diagnosis and if it is Alzheimer's disease, you'll be better equipped for a discussion with a doctor.