Many people are forgetful at times; this is just a common byproduct of being imperfect and of living in very stressful times. However, if you’re very forgetful of things that are really rather routine, you may be wondering if you are exhibiting the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, or if someone you know is.
Forgetfulness is one of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, which is a form of dementia or brain malfunction that typically affects older persons. But how do you know if you really are exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer’s or if you’re just stressed and perhaps absentminded?
A good way to tell the difference between normal forgetfulness and symptoms of Alzheimer’s is to understand how memory works. The more you repeat something and the longer you know a certain piece of information, the more it’s going to be permanently stored in your brain. It takes at least 8 seconds of concentration on any bit of information to move it from short-term memory to long-term. This is why it’s so easy to forget where you put your keys – you only think about where you’ve dropped them for half a second, so that information is not in long-term memory storage.
We do most things every day because they’re in our long-term memory storage. Common symptoms of Alzheimer’s include forgetting to do things or forgetting how to relate to things that should be in that long-term storage. You know how to wash your hair because you’ve been doing it for so long that it’s stored in your memory permanently, and you know what shampoo is because you’ve been using it for so long that its use is in that memory storage as well.
Forgetting where you put your car keys is normal because it’s not in long-term memory storage. However, symptoms of Alzheimer’s might mean forgetting what car keys are used for. Forgetting to buy shampoo at the store happens because you didn’t think about it long enough to put that chore into long-term memory storage, but recognizing what a bottle of shampoo is should be there. If you look at a bottle of shampoo and have no idea what it is, that is perhaps a symptom of Alzheimer’s.
Of course, if you suspect that you or someone you know is showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s, you should make an appointment with a doctor to be tested and find out for sure, and to begin treatment right away.