| Tue, Oct 08, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

Is It Alzheimer’s Disease or Just Forgetfulness?

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Alzheimers diseaseAccording to the Alzheimer’s Association, millions of people are living with, or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. It is the most common form of dementia, and some of the symptoms can be managed but there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s.  

Alzheimer’s causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. A small percentage of cases occur in middle adulthood, and the risk of developing the disease increases with age. Lifestyle and family history may be additional risk factors, but there is still much to learn.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, and symptoms worsen over time. In the early stages, there may be mild memory loss. In late-stages, people affected by Alzheimer’s may be unable to carry on a conversation, engage with others, or understand what’s happening around them.

Warning Signs to Watch For

What’s the difference between normal forgetfulness and possible warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease? One example would be forgetting your car keys versus forgetting where you live or how to drive to your house.

Other common warning signs of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Asking for the same information multiple times.

  • Having trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.

  • Losing track of the season, year or other passage of time.

  • Being confused about where you are and how you got there.

  • Changes in normal mood or personality.

Where to Get More Information

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Starting October 14 and running into November, John’s Hopkins University is offering a free online class for people interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s disease. The class will cover diagnosis, care planning, help for caregivers and more.

It’s best to talk to your doctor sooner rather than later if you notice changes in yourself or a loved one and you suspect the cause may be Alzheimer’s disease. Early diagnosis and treatment may slow the worsening of symptoms and help preserve quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. 

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.


Alz.org: Visit the Alzheimer’s Association website to learn more about Alzheimer’s.

Alzfdn.org: Read about legal and financial planning for people with Alzheimer’s.

Medicare.gov: Visit the official U.S. government site for Medicare.


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