Should I be concerned about my mother's memory?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 15, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother is almost 91. She has always been very good about remembering things but lately she has goten very bad about remembering things. I know her age is a large factor but she is just not herself anymore. Should I be concerned?

Expert Answers

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's. A Met Life Foundation Journalists in Aging fellow, she writes extensively about health and caregiving; four of her family members have had dementia.

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.