Is rapid memory loss a sign of Alzheimer's?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 15, 2016
Pscreed asked...

My grandfather shows many signs of Alzheimer's but will not see a doctor for diagnosis.  In only one year he has gone from mild signs of memory loss to not knowing family at all and not knowing if my grandmother has kids after being married 30 years.  Is this normal progression or may there be something else wrong that is causing long term memory loss in just a year's time?

Expert Answers

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

 A rapid short term memory decline is not usually associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD).  Most of the time memory loss for someone with AD has a slower progression.  It is important for him to be seen by a physician as soon as possible to determine the cause and perhaps treatment of the rapid memory loss.  You might inform the physician of the problem and ask for a letter scheduling a annual physical not mentioning the memory loss.  If that fails, you might find a doctor who will make a house call.