Normal Memory Problems

Research indicates that benign, or normal, forgetfulness might be part of the normal aging process and usually begins in early middle age. Most people have some experience forgetting names, appointments or where they left their keys. However, normal forgetfulness differs from Alzheimer’s disease in some very important ways. The Alzheimer’s patient will become lost in familiar surroundings; forget names of familiar people; have problems handling money; forget how to dress, read or write; and will lose the ability to perform basic tasks such as using a key or radio.


Many older adults suffer memory loss, but never receive proper medical attention because of the belief that it is a normal part of the aging process. There are more than 60 medical conditions that have symptoms that mimic Alzheimer’s disease and may cause memory problems. Below are a few of the conditions, which are considered to be successfully treatable. Early diagnosis and treatment may improve memory.

Poor Nutrition

Body chemistry can become imbalanced from the “tea and toast” syndrome, eating meals lacking the full range of necessary nutrients.


Many people do not drink enough fluids, or they consume primarily caffeine beverages that flush fluids out of the body.

Fluctuation in Blood Sugar

People who develop diabetes late in life may go for years without realizing they should ask their physician to check their blood sugar.

Thyroid Deficiency

Possible thyroid deficiency can be checked by a physician and remedied with medication.


Urinary tract or bladder infections are the most common infection, but any infection can cause memory loss.

Medication Combinations

Taking multiple pills every day can result in mix-ups or medication interactions.

Medication Toxicity

Occasionally, too much medication accumulates in the blood. For example, digoxin (Lanoxin) is a heart medication which can become toxic.


Some people lose interest in others and become confused when they get depressed. Antidepressant medication may help significantly.

Sensory Losses

Loss of hearing or sight may interfere with orientation to time and place.

Lung Disease

Memory loss may completely resolve when the person receives oxygen treatments.


Tumors in the brain, liver, or other organs can lead to memory loss. Prompt diagnosis may mean that the tumor can be removed or reduced through treatment.

Toxic House

Furnaces sometimes malfunction and leave carbon monoxide in the air, producing confusion and sleepiness. Fixing the furnace may restore alertness.