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Types of Normal Memory Lapses in Elderly

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While some “oops” moments may be frustrating and worrisome for seniors, such experiences don’t necessarily mean that Alzheimer’s or similar dementia-related conditions are around the corner. In fact, the following memory issues are often considered perfectly normal.

Occasional Absentmindedness

Forgetting why you walked into a room or leaving car keys on the table are memory lapses often related to a lack of focus rather than anything neurological in the brain. However, at-home caregivers want to pay attention to the nature of the occasional forgetfulness. Your elderly loved one forgetting how to get somewhere he or she hasn’t been in a while is different than getting lost in a neighborhood where he or she has lived for 30 years.


You tell your loved one over lunch that you finally saved up for that trip to Hawaii you’ve been talking about and he or she thinks you mentioned it over the phone. This is scrambling. During this type of memory loss, people recall the basic facts but change the order. Scientists attribute it to a loss of nerve cells in the hippocampus (part of the brain responsible for cataloging information) with age.


Blocking refers to those “tip-of-the-tongue” moments where you’re thinking of something but you can’t quite get a grasp on it. Researchers believe memory lapses like this result from needing to access more parts of the brain to retrieve stored information. If seniors typically recall what they were trying to remember at a later moment, there’s usually no need to worry.

Fade Out

When certain moments from the recent or distant past can no longer be recalled, it’s referred to as fade out. This type of memory lapse is believed to be a normal process in the brain, removing some unused information. Photos, conversations about the past or recollections from other people with firsthand knowledge of the moment, experiences or events can sometimes bring those memories back.

If moments of forgetfulness have you concerned about your aging parent’s safety and wellbeing, turn to Home Care Assistance.  We are a trusted provider of elderly home care in Oklahoma and can ensure your loved one has the help he or she needs to remain safe and comfortable at home. Our caregivers can offer medication reminders, grocery shop, cook, perform light housework, assist with exercise, and provide companionship. For more information, give a friendly Care Manager a call at 405-285-4191 and request a complimentary in-home consultation.

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