Alzheimer's Disease

Frequently Asked Questions

10. If you become forgetful as you get older, does that mean you will get Alzheimer’s disease?

Not all memory problems are caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Mild forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. Sometimes memory problems are related to health issues that are treatable. For example, these conditions may cause memory loss or possibly dementia.

  • medication side effects
  • vitamin B12 deficiency
  • chronic alcoholism
  • tumors or infections in the brain.

Thyroid, liver or kidney disorders also can lead to memory loss.

Emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression, can also make a person more forgetful and may be mistaken for dementia. The confusion and forgetfulness caused by emotions usually are temporary and go away when the feelings fade.

If you or someone in your family thinks your forgetfulness is getting in the way of your normal routine, it’s time to see your doctor. He or she can find out what’s causing these problems.

See a chart that compares signs of Alzheimer’s disease with signs of normal aging.