For people living in an Alzheimer’s senior living community, Alzheimer’s and dementia are primarily associated with forgetfulness. Dementia eventually leaves patients unable to perform day-to-day tasks such as cooking or bathing—and causes the loss of other cognitive functions. Nowadays, doctors increasingly recognize that not all forgetfulness results from Alzheimer’s disease. Some key differences between Alzheimer’s and forgetfulness can help family members and caregivers determine what’s behind the forgetfulness of a loved one.


1.) Forgetting Is a Normal Part of Aging, While Dementia Is Not

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. The disease affecting millions worldwide eventually causes severe cognitive decline and memory loss, which is why family members may assume their aging relatives have Alzheimer’s.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, however, people with Alzheimer’s are not forgetful because they have dementia. In addition, many individuals living in senior living communities also experience forgetfulness, but these people do not have Alzheimer’s disease.

Elderly individuals forget a great deal, and this is because their brains are not as sharp as they once were. The forgetting is not because of dementia; it is the loss of cognitive areas responsible for memory and thinking skills. There is no cure for age-related forgetfulness, although there are treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms. Some medications and therapies work better than others to manage the symptoms and relieve suffering.


2.) Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s

People with Alzheimer’s may gradually lose the ability to multi-task and may not remember whether they’ve already given a presentation or what their son or daughter said to them that morning. They also may experience substantial cognitive decline and forgetfulness. However, displaying the symptoms of dementia does not automatically mean that a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive brain disorder that leads to diminished memory, thinking skills, and behavior change – eventually leading to death or living with the disease for many years or decades. Dementia can be treated with proper treatment and care.


3.) Alzheimer’s Disease Produces Specific Changes in the Brain. Forgetfulness Does Not

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. These buildups cause nerve cells to die, which affects memory and other cognitive functions; this is called neurodegeneration. Studies on the brains of people with Alzheimer’s reveal changes in the genes or proteins in their brains, which is a cause of the disease. When people have Alzheimer’s, their brains undergo additional chemical and physical changes. These changes cause memory loss and other cognitive problems but do not affect the brain’s normal functions.


4.) Forgetfulness Has No Predisposition, Alzheimer’s Disease Does

There is no known cause of Alzheimer’s disease. However, an individual’s genetic makeup, age, and family history contribute to the risk of developing the disease. Research shows that people who have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s are more likely to develop it themselves.


5.) Forgetfulness Can Occur in People of All Ages, but Alzheimer’s Is More Common After Age 60

Studies show that approximately 60 percent of people with dementia are older than 75. That means that most people developing dementia are over 60 years old. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia and usually affects people between 60 and 80. Most people with Alzheimer’s do not experience symptoms until they are between 65 and 75.

A senior man holds hands with his caregiver at memory care


6.) Forgetfulness Can Occur for Several Reasons. Fugue is Rare with Alzheimer’s

Fugue is a rare symptom of Alzheimer’s; most people with the disease do not experience forgetfulness, but other types of dementia can cause this disorder. In addition, people with Alzheimer’s are not forgetful because they have dementia. Remember, people with Alzheimer’s Disease experience forgetfulness because their cognitive abilities have declined.


7.) Forgetfulness Can Occur With or Without Memory Loss

Most people with Alzheimer’s experience memory loss, but some symptoms of the disease such as mood swings, irritability, and aggression, could occur without memory loss. Remember, not everyone with Alzheimer’s disease has forgetfulness due to the progression of this disease.


8.) Forgetfulness Can Be Treated. 

The antidepressant medications prescribed to treat depression can also alleviate symptoms of forgetfulness. It’s worth noting that these medications are not a cure for Alzheimer’s—they simply help manage symptoms. Managing Alzheimer’s disease with appropriate care is the best way to ensure good quality of life for individuals living in Alzheimer’s senior living communities.

9.) Alzheimer’s Can Be Managed but Not Cured

Altering the environment to reduce stress and increase sleep helps because memories are made while we sleep. In addition, some products and services help with memory loss in seniors, such as memory support cards, memory food trays, and memory picture frames.

10.) Forgetfulness or Memory Loss Might Be Caused by Other Illnesses or Medical Conditions

Managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s can help improve the quality of life for those who suffer from this disease. The following illnesses and conditions can also cause forgetfulness or memory loss:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Heart Diseases
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB)
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Psychiatric Disorders
  • Head Trauma (such as caused by a fall)
  • Alcoholism or Drug Abuse Related Dementia
  • Dementia Related to Huntington’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease in the Family

You can learn more about these conditions to avoid getting them confused with Alzheimer’s disease.


Turn to Alzheimer’s Senior Living

Do you or a loved one have memory loss or forgetfulness? Or maybe, more importantly, do you wish to control the symptoms? There are several ways to help manage the symptoms and reduce your risk of developing these diseases.

You can make a big difference in keeping your brain healthy and working optimally by taking even a few small steps to begin following an appropriate healthy diet. There is no need to change the way that you eat completely. The key is to begin changing your habits and making small changes. You are the only one who can decide if you want to change or not.

At Sabal Palms Alzheimer’s senior living, you can rest assured that the food is both healthy and tasty. This is important because it’s easier to stay healthy with the right motivation. We prioritize healthy meals because we measure our success on the Wellness and Happiness factors. You can learn more about our philosophy on our website.