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Mind & Mood
Spotting memory loss in a loved one
Watch for certain behaviors, especially if they’re consistent.
You know a lot about the health of your loved ones. But would you recognize if a loved one had memory loss? It’s not always easy. "You’re less likely to notice cognitive changes if you’re with a family member every day. It’s more obvious when you see the person infrequently," says Dana Kelly, a neuropsychologist who specializes in dementia disorders at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Normal vs. abnormal memory changes
Age does a number on the memory. Normal age-related changes make it harder to focus and recall details. "The complaints I hear often are that people sometimes forget why they walked into a room or can’t remember the name of an acquaintance. Those aren’t red flags for cognitive disorders," Kelly says.
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About the Author
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
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Improving Memory: Understanding age-related memory loss
By age 60, more than half of adults have concerns about their memory. However, minor memory lapses that occur with age are not usually signs of a serious problem, such as Alzheimer’s disease, but rather the result of normal changes in the structure and function of the brain. This report, Improving Memory: Understanding age-related memory loss, describes these normal age-related changes and other more serious causes of memory loss — and how to distinguish between them.
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