Paula Spencer Scott, senior editor, writes extensively about health and caregiving. A 2011 Met Life Foundation Journalists in Aging fellow, she helped care for both...
Yes, you're right to be concerned any time memory loss is an issue. Alzheimer's or other kinds of dementia are not inevitable side effects of aging. Their incidence does rise
with age; only 2-3 percent of people 71 to 79 have Alzheimer's, for example, compared with 29 percent of those over 90.
Memory loss can endanger your mother, for example, if she were to forget to turn off the stove or to get lost, if she still drives.
It's a good idea to have a noticeable change in cognition checked out by her physician or a memory clinic, especially if it is affecting everyday life. If she does appear to have Alzheimer's, medication may be able to slow the rate of decline and help her maintain her quality of life. Or there may be another issue, such as a drug interaction, urinary tract infection, or nutritional issue that's causing the memory glitches -- and if treated properly, the problem could go away.