Is it Alzheimer's or just forgetfulness

Is it Alzheimer's or just forgetfulness
This undated image provided by Merck & Co., shows a cross section of a normal brain (right) and one of a brain damaged by advanced Alzheimer's disease.
You get older, you get more forgetful. Trust me, I know.

This is a normal part of aging. It doesn't mean you have Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia. So how do you know?

"Alzheimer's is not a normal part of aging. And one of the first signs you want to look for is anything that's disrupting how someone is getting through their daily life," says Joanne Maher, director of programs and services at the Alzheimer's Association of Western Washington. "So it's not just necessarily memory or confusion, but it's also functional."

For example, you can no longer follow a recipe or balance your checkbook.

"What you're looking for is a significant change that's been going or even a subtle one, but it's something that's impacting what you have normally been able to do and how you can get through the day now as opposed to what you were used to doing and able to do."

The Alzheimer's Association wants you to know the 10 warning signs of this disease:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the signs, see a doctor and find out about taking a screening test. Early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer's is important for both individuals at risk and for family members and friends. It gives you a chance to seek treatment and plan for the future.

The Alzheimer's Association's Helpline (1-800-272-3900) is a toll-free number that you can call 24-hours a day, 7 days a week to get information about Alzheimer's disease.