As people age, their cognitive abilities decline. You might be worried about this for yourself or a loved one. But what is normal and what isn’t?

Sometimes you forget your keys or the name of that person you just met — and you wonder if that means you’re on your way to a full-blown dementia. But memory loss isn’t always a sign of dementia. Some degree of memory loss is normal as we age.

Common examples of normal age-related forgetfulness include:

  • Occasionally forgetting where you left your keys or glasses, or forgetting an appointment
  • Forgetting why you walked into a room
  • Forgetting names of acquaintances
  • Becoming easily distracted
  • Difficulty remembering what you just read

Age-related memory loss vs. dementia

The primary difference between age-related memory loss and dementia is that the latter is disabling. It is normal to forget where you put your keys, but not normal to forget what keys are for. You might forget a word on the tip of your tongue, but you shouldn’t forget what you just said in a conversation and begin to repeat yourself.

It may be hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but you shouldn’t have trouble with things you’ve done many times before — such as getting dressed in the right type of clothes, or getting lost or disoriented in your own neighborhood.

Memory loss doesn’t always imply dementia. Only when memory loss interferes with tasks of daily living is there a concern.

Watch the video below to learn how we measure changes in memory with BrainCheck.